Wimbledon is underway here in the UK. For the majority of people who watch it, it’s the only 2 weeks of the year that they’re interested in this sport. And even then their interest lies in the social aspect of cheering on Britain’s own Andy Murray.
Another main talking point is the issue of equal pay between the men’s and women’s tours. This gets brought up every year, maybe because Wimbledon was the last slam to introduce it in 2007. (The French Open offers the same cheque only to the champions). The more likely reason that it gets brought up it that it is clearly unfair.
Yeah I said it.
The basis around my belief has little to do with the workload argument. That men play a best of 5 sets while women play a best of 3. Sure, in most industries if someone worked a fraction of the work that you do, you’d be justified in feeling a little aggrieved. Personally, I’d be livid! But this is sports, for people watching it’s entertainment. It’s not like sportsmen or sportswomen are paid, or should be paid by the hour. The tennis tour lasts around 10-11 months of the year, they play for hours with potentially many matches in a week. Usain Bolt only competed in just 3 races in 2014!
My argument is primarily concerned with people getting paid what they are worth: their market value. If you provide a good or service that many people want to buy then you deserve to be paid. It you offer something that nobody is interested is, then you deserve nothing.
Whenever someone says they believe women tennis players should be paid as much as their male counterparts, I usually ask them if they think Badminton players should be paid as much as Tennis players. (Or better still use male Badminton players and female tennis players). And of course they will reply with something along the lines of “no, because a lot more people watch Tennis than Badminton”. Which is true. Then ask them if female soccer players should be paid the same as male soccer players. If their brain functioning capabilities are not restrained by political-correct thinking they should reply which a similar answer. Many more people watch men kick a ball about than women, and it’s the same with tennis.
Check out the viewing figures for last year’s final, from the official Wimbledon website:
Novak Djokovic’s victory over Roger Federer in the Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Singles final drew a peak audience of 10 million viewers. (BBC)
The Ladies’ Singles Final drew a peak audience of 3.1m viewers. (BBC)
Tickets for men’s matches, for the same rounds, can be sold for up to 4 times as much as the women’s. Here:
And here, check out the Hospitality prices:
I subjectively find the WTA less interesting or exciting that the ATP. But it’s clearly a fact that the wider viewing audience feels the same way. There’s more interest in the men’s game. More people watch ATP on TV, more people are willing to turn up to watch in person and pay more to do so. So the pot of money that the men’s game creates is much larger than the pot of money that the women’s game creates. These two metaphorical pots are combined and then the prize money is doled out equally, which is clearly not fair.
Wimbledon earns a fortune from selling its TV rights around the world. Imagine if there was a men’s Wimbledon in June, and then a separate women’s Wimbledon in July. Those separate TV rights would certainly not be equal. The Rome Open used to be separate years ago. But the women’s tournament was poorly attended they were combined. If you watch plenty of tennis you’ll see some WTA events being played in near empty stadiums. The women’s tour is riding on the coat-tails of the men’s tour.