The Dissemination of Thought

Just because it's in print doesn't mean it's intelligent…

When will prize money be on par?

with 9 comments

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.

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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?

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9 Responses

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  1. Not that long ago, it was the same in the USA. But, with the galvanizing of the female athletes and fans – a little tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, promoters, managers, and advertisers started rethinking the equality of prizes. The money at tournaments has slowly been rising… not equal to the men’s prize money, but much better than what it had been. And, getting television coverage deals in place, more money has been coming in for women’s sports.

    Along a similar line, money provided for women’s collegiate sports greatly improved after a law referred to as Title IX was signed over thirty years ago. It allowed for more scholarship support for female athletes at the collegiate (university) level.

    It’s a matter of raising collective voices…

    A Beach to Abroad

    March 30, 2012 at 13:31

  2. I am decidedly apathetic about sports, but I read this because YOU wrote it. I wasn’t sure if I could get through the whole thing, but I was gonna try. I read every word, and I loved it. This is the way columns should be written: you have facts, you have a well-informed and strong opinion, and the structure works care less about golf than any other sport, but because you have a good premise, I kept reading. I hope my next column is as rad as this. Bravo!! This is the first sports article I’ve read in years.

    Unrelenting Amee

    March 30, 2012 at 21:23

    • I also am pretty uninterested when the word “sports” is used – although (mature) gender discussions always interest me. This was a very well-written piece.

      On a side note, this attitude doesn’t just apply to sports. Two examples: I play a popular mmorpg which shall remain unnamed, and I (used to) read a popular website which shall remain unnamed – both exposed me to some horrifically throwback-like attitudes and ideas about women and ‘their place’. It’s not just that such attitudes still exist that stunned me, it was not just the frequency with which it occurred, but the laissez faire attitudes surrounding such incidents that left me speechless. Somewhat literally, as I stopped posting in the one place because I kept running into discussions that left me feeling physically ill, and stopped letting people know anything about myself in the mmorpg because it was so frequently followed by requests for photos (or sometimes more) or just plain obscene or insulting commentary.

      mackerelskies

      March 31, 2012 at 00:29

  3. Yani Tseng is the #1 female golfer in the world. Her win totals and win totals for the majors is reaching levels of Tiger Woods’ status. I play golf. I play a lot of golf but I just realized, not that long ago, that she was accomplishing this. It’s sad but even I’m guilty of not paying attention to women’s golf.
    I grew up wanting to play golf professionally but it’s so hard to make a living as a golfer but even more difficult as a female golfer.

    Adrienne schmadrienne

    March 30, 2012 at 23:32

  4. I agree with everything you said, but I also wonder if it’s because in general, men watch more sports than women, and therefore the male athletes get more attention. Women, on the other hand, tend to focus more on entertainment personalities, and lord knows, those folks aren’t underpaid. And I’m speaking in generalities here–not attempting to stereotype as I know it goes both ways.

    crubin

    March 31, 2012 at 00:42

  5. TV ratings are the reason… not that I watch golf, but I suspect that an audience of male and female golf enthusiasts would prefer to watch men golf. I get your chicken and egg argument, but at the end of the day should male golfers subsidise female golfers, cause that is the only way you’d get equality at the moment.

    reflexio.com

    April 2, 2012 at 23:03

  6. I nominated you for a Versatile Blogger Award!
    Want to check out the rules for it?
    Go here:
    http://ridgwaydanielle.wordpress.com/2012/04/04/versatile-blogger-award-okay/
    Thank you for having an awesome blog 🙂

    danielleridgway

    April 4, 2012 at 23:22

  7. I live in Portland, Oregon. We have a professional women’s football team here. But I doubt anybody has ever heard of them, unless they’re a fan of women’s football. They host try-outs from time to time. I’ve considered trying out, but haven’t tried because they end up having to pay their own way for much of their expenses and I’m too broke to handle that at this point. These women are dedicated to their sport, but they can’t even get anybody to pay for their expenses. It’s ridiculous.

    http://www.portlandshockwave.com/

    hollybernabe

    April 5, 2012 at 06:32

  8. I totally think that this is an AWESOME post! It’s cool that you wrote it for your sports column. Very insighful, and with my women’s studies background, I greatly appreciate the points you made.

    So, I dug out The Daily Illini Salary Guide (11/2/11) from the University of Illinois. When I picked it up, I thought it was about salaries you could expect in various job fields. Actually, it is top salaries for administrators, coaches, Deans, and others who make the big bucks. I was in shock with some of it- Bruce Webber (men’s BB coach; recently fired, however, with the current firing squad at U of I) made $1,300,000 as of last year. Stephanie Record, 17th season as cheerleading coach, made $20,470 as of last year. Yeah.

    julieannesmith

    April 8, 2012 at 10:55


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