Equal Pay?

serena fistRay Moore, CEO of the Indian Wells tournament, got into trouble with his comments about the women’s game “riding the coattails of the men’s popularity.” He was blunt and he was a little crude; but was he wrong?

Equal Pay for Equal Work

Yes, I am with women on the issue of “equal pay for equal work.” If a woman is piloting a Delta airlines commercial flight, she should get paid the same as a male pilot. If a female CEO is running a successful company, she should make as much as her male counterparts.

But if that concept is valid, female tennis players should get LOWER prize money! They play only two out of three sets (never best of five); they have “special” heat rules to protect them; and they only have a very small handful of “stars,” who command ticket sales and TV viewing audiences.

Djokovic is quoted describing Ray Moore’s comments as being “not politically correct” but that men “should fight for more” of the prize money vs accepting equal prize money for men and women at Co-ed tennis events.

The Other Side

Winder Bill writes, “There is no one answer fits all. If ticket sales and television audience determined the allocation of prize money, doubles (men’s AND women’s AND mixed) would not pay enough for travel expenses. My absolutely favorite tennis to watch these days is Martina Hingis in women’s and mixed doubles – that would go away with a strict market determination of prize money.”

“Social issues have objective and subjective aspects. The early period of title IX had horrendous consequences for some male athletes. For example, when a wrestling team was dropped and a women’s rowing team added, rising senior wrestlers with valid conference and NCAA tournament aspirations lost their opportunity to compete and women who had never sat in a scull and rowed were given scholarships. Fair? Yes, in my opinion, because the price paid was an unfortunate cost of the rise of young women having the opportunity to have a full range of sports to compete in.”

Ray Moore was “politically incorrect” (and lost his job because of the push-back), but was he wrong?

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10 thoughts on “Equal Pay?

  1. I am a firm believer in equal pay for equal work, but as you note, the work is not equal for some professional tournaments. There are three solutions to this inequality:
    1. Change the percent paid to women to 60% of the men’s pay, if the women play two out of three sets and the men play three out of five.
    2. Make some tournaments two out of three sets for all players.
    3. Make some tournaments three out of five sets for all players.

    Michael, you think most of the women players could do five sets in the Australian summer?! Thanks, george

  2. I advocate equal pay for WTA and ATP players when both are competing in best of 3-sets tournaments i.e. indian Wells and Miami. Grand Slams…I firmly believe the guys deserve more prize $ because their “job” requires substantially more time and effort.

  3. George, to be honest, I don’t think the men should be playing five sets in that heat. I was only referring to the equal pay situation.

    Michael, i agree that five sets is both too long to play + too long to watch! thanks, george

  4. Ray Moore was just speaking the truth, but it is not politically correct. I was a college college coach for 18 years when Title IX came in. Not only did the women want equal, they wanted more and got it. Somehow they were able to get more scholarships in tennis, track, and a few others to offset football. To me they were greedy and they didn’t care that it hurt men’s sports. They also didn’t mind that men’s football paid for their scholarships, that was to be expected. When I was coaching the Men got 4.5 scholarships and the women 8. My guys would look at the #8 player on the women and ask how does she get a full ride and I get 1/2. Didn’t make my job any easier. I am and was for equal. We should have had 6 full for each team. Unfortunately we also lost a lot of men’s tennis program because of title IX.
    It’s too late for pro tennis, women’s equal is here to stay when they play together. Golf better be careful because the women there want to play with the men and guess what , they will expect equal.

    Larry, Political Correctness (people unable to speak the obvious truth) is hurting us in many, many ways today. thanks, george

  5. Yes I think they could play 5 sets in the Australian summer heat…. ( doing a mini triathlon I got passed on the bike by a 67 year old lady flying at 20 miles an hour)

    The question is, does anyone want to watch that?

  6. We get bored watching a men’s 5 setter. If it’s taped – we’ll fast-forward thru most of it. If it’s a 3 setter, we enjoy watching the entire match. So .. I agree with those who say both sexes should play best of 3 sets with equal pay and leave endurance tests to the Iron Man (or Woman) Competition.

  7. Compensation is, and always will be, a function of the marketplace. Taking the male versus female issue out of the debate (because frankly it is a distraction), posit these two scenarios:

    You are the CEO of a Fortune 100 company, which is in the fast food industry. You jet set all around the world constantly, shaking hands, lobbying politicians in foreign countries to allow your company to open new restaurants, testifying before Congress, meeting new customers, attending cocktail parties and black tie dinners, appearing on television, playing golf nearly constantly to drum up new business and support your company, etc. If you had to account for your time, you would say that you are 24/7 on the job. But breaking it down to when you have to put in “real” work — like meeting with your CFO and Veeps, attending monthly Board meetings, meeting with the company’s lawyers and accountants, attending strategic planning meetings — you really are only working, on average, about 15 hours a week, or 780 hours a year. Your base compensation is $10 million. Adding in performance bonuses, stock options, funding of your pension and golden parachute, etc., your actual compensation is closer to $100 million a year. At 780 hours a year, that equates to an hourly salary of about $128,200.

    You work as a hamburger cook in a local fast food restaurant, a franchisee of the Fortune 100 company referenced above. You work 38 hours a week, but you wish you could work more. You earn $5.75 per hour, or $218.50 a week, or $11,362 a year. You are on your feet constantly when you are at work. It is hot and sweaty in the back of the restaurant. You slip a lot on grease on the floor and keep reinjuring an old issue with your knee. You have to take a bus and walk to and from your apartment and work because you don’t make enough to afford a car. You used to have a bike but it was stolen and you don’t have enough savings yet to buy a replacement. You never take off for vacation because you cannot afford it. At 38 hours a week, you actually work 1,972 hours a year — more than double the CEO of the firm that you work for.

    Who is getting paid what he or she is worth?

    Marty, it all depends… does the second guy get free hamburgers? 🙂 And is Roger Goodell really worth $44 million a year??? george

  8. Nobody wants to hear the TRUTH. If it wasn’t for the top men players the last 10 years carrying the game, the game would have suffered. Serena Williams has turned more people away from tennis than she has attracted to the game with her attitude. You can’t say it but Ray Moore comments were “right on”. Serena Williams did not play enough tennis most years to be ranked very high and basically did not do anything for women’s tennis until the last couple of years. It’s OK to send my comments to her. I never watch her matches until I know she has LOST — like this past weekend.. I fast forward to the last game and enjoy the result. Sorry to admit that my comments are not very American like and certainly not endorsed by many………

    Paul, when my grandsons were visiting last week and we were watching the tennis, they wanted to know why i was rooting against the American (Serena); and i tried to explain that i do not like how she acts on the court. thanks, george

  9. “Equal pay” in the entertainment business (which Sports are) is based not on “equal work”; i.e. playing 3 sets vs 5 sets etc. but on creating value. The fact , ( although not “PC”) is that women in professional sports do not attract the same number of fans as men. Sponsors pay based on viewership and men, almost always, generate considerably more viewers. It has never been close in any major sport; Football, baseball, basketball, hockey, tennis, golf. Sports fans will pay big dollars to see the best players in the world compete. The best players in the world are MEN. On talent alone there is no comparison therefor by definition it is not “equal work”. The NBA vs. WNBA or PGA vs. WPGA are classic examples. In tennis the top 200 men in the world could beat any woman on tour. Same case in basketball and in golf. Men earn salaries in the millions based on talent and revenue generation. Nothing to do with gender, it’s simple economics. Unfortunately, if you work in the professional sports business and state the obvious you are toast!

    Jim, i agree. And the past is littered with “former” sports announcers who spoke the obvious truth and paid the price. thanks, george

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