When will prize money be on par?
Here’s a piece I wrote for my sports column in today’s The North West Star about the vast gap between prize purses in men’s and women’s sport.
Why is there such disparity between the prize money offered to male and female athletes?
Last year’s Australian PGA Championship offered $1,500,000 in prize money to the men who donned their funky golf outfits and battled the Hyatt Regency Coolum Course.
The winner, Greg Chalmers, pocketed $270,000 for his 12 under par victory.
In February, only $500,000 was offered in total for the Gold Coast RACV Australian Ladies Masters.
Holland’s Christel Boeljon scored a one-stroke victory at the event but only received $75,000 as recompense for doing so.
Both the Hyatt Regency Coolum and Royal Pines courses are par 72.
Chalmers completed his four rounds in 276 strokes, while Boeljon went around the Gold Coast course four times in 267 strokes.
The Australian PGA Championship and Gold Coast RACV Australian Ladies Masters are this country’s ultimate golfing events for men and women respectively, yet the boys get to play for about three times the prize money.
By offering so much more for competing, are event organisers suggesting Chalmers, Robert Allenby and Adam Scott are three times better than Boeljon and other female players like Nikki Campbell and Sarah Kemp?
Of course not.
But if that’s the case, why is there such a ridiculous difference in prize money being offered for exactly the same amount of golf, based purely on whether the player sits down to pee?
The answer is advertising.
Professional sportswomen don’t get the media coverage that male athletes do. As such, they don’t have the public profile advertising executives look for when throwing money around.
Money that ends up in prize pools.
Essentially, less public recognition undoubtedly means a smaller prize purse.
Advertisers want a brand, and without increased media exposure, female athletes will never be able to become a brand.
Unless they are, to put it boorishly, hot.
Everyone knows who Tiger Woods is.
Can you name the world’s current top female golfer?
No, me either.
We have been conditioned by advertising and the media to recognise male athletes by their strength and ability with a club, a bat or a ball.
With male sporting stars, it’s all about the actual sport.
As far as our best sportswomen go, society as a whole only recognises them as exceptional athletes if they have great legs or look sensational in a beach volleyball outfit.
In a nutshell, we are told men are apparently tough and should receive maximum reward for their athletic performance, while women should, it seems, get paid peanuts for their sporting skill and rely on sex appeal to supplement their income via endorsements.
Am I the only one who finds this very 19th century?
If you are in the upper echelon of players in the country in your chosen sport, why should your ability to earn money by competing in said sport be influenced by whether you are male or female?
Tennis is beginning to come around as officials start to offer equal prize money for the guys and girls, but a lot of sports have a long way to go.
Without getting into the economics of male versus female sport and advertising, there’s an incredibly simple answer to the prize money gap: pay the girls more to play.
If they are playing the same sport as their male counterparts, why shouldn’t they be getting paid equally?
Shouldn’t it be about skill and not gender?