Unequal pay for equal work

Bigotry at its zenith


Vandy Manyeh, News Reporter

For more than 100 years women weren’t allowed to play in the Olympics. Women made a breakthrough in 1990 when they were allowed to play lawn tennis and golf at the Paris Games. Since then, there have been formidable leagues just for female sports, and as an avid sports follower, I just can’t eschew watching these games because of a blind bigotry that has persisted for so long.

It has been well over three decades since President Richard Nixon signed the Title IX amendments into law. In part, this law states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

That fact that women are still fighting for their rights across sporting federations show a blatant disregard of the law. What a travesty of justice.

Women who play sports must always fight for the right thing to be done. They aren’t paid well whether they play for their countries or clubs. They aren’t given the same facilities to play in, and investments into female sports is an ever growing conundrum.

Recently, the women’s U.S. Hockey Team had to threaten to boycott the 2017 Women’s World Hockey Championship that ended with a triumph against Canada in the finals. This is a team that has won six of the last seven championship titles. It is heartbreaking to note these women were advocating for menial things like child care benefits, maternity leave and for money to be spent on young female hockey players.

This rigmarole has also been going on between the women’s soccer team and U.S. Soccer. From per diems, bonuses and salary, women on the team are still battling for a raise to be paid like their male counterparts.

Here are some arguments if your reaction is visceral: The women’s soccer team generates more money than the male soccer team. The U.S. women’s soccer team generated $23 million after the 2015 World Cup games. After the deduction of the team’s expenses, U.S. soccer received a profit of about $6.6 million. According to the New York Times’ Andrew Das, the men’s team was expected to lose $1 million after pulling in only $9 million in revenue for 2016.

As for television ratings, 26.67 million viewers tuned in to watch the 2015 finals between the U.S. women’s team versus Japan. This is on record as the most-watched soccer game in U.S. TV history. If this is not a wake-up call that justifies that women should be paid like men in sports, stop propagating the asinine argument that people care less about women sports.

This type of blind bigotry is at its zenith even in tournaments where male and female athletes play in together. The Western and Southern Open is a classic example. Serena Williams and Roger Federer both had the chance to defend their previous wins at this event last year. Preposterous as it may sound, Federer earned $731,000 while Williams made $495,000.

Finally, female athletes must go the extra length to earn something decent as an athlete. A majority of WNBA players, for example, leave every fall to play across the Atlantic in Europe. From the reigning MVP and Los Angeles Sparks star Nneka Ogwumike to star players like Candace Parker and Angel McCoughtry, they are all globetrotters because they can’t earn what they should earn as an athlete in the WNBA.

Let me put this into perspective. In 2016, Stephen Curry, the reigning MVP in the NBA plays on a contract worth $11 million per year and around $10 million per year in endorsement deals. These figures will double when he signs a new contract at the end of his four-year deal. On the other hand, Ogwumike makes $90,000 per year, $15,000 shy of the WNBA maximum salary cap.

The vice versa of this scenario would’ve seen more investments and revenue generation strategies.

We all saw a big jump in what players in the NBA are paid at the onset of this season, a raise that can be attributed to the massive jump in the salary cap created by a nine-year $24 billion television deal. A far-from-entertaining player like Mike Conley will make $153 million in five years in Memphis.

From the women’s team that brings in the dollars and trophies like the men’s teams, playing in the same tournament and receiving a smaller portion compared to what male athletes get, to the lack of support for women’s sports causing them to play for the entire year in Europe and America, in my honest opinion, this is bizarre.