By Katelyn Colley
Stanton College Preparatory School
Forbes magazine has recently released a list of the top 100 highest paid professional athletes throughout the world and one thing stands out above everything else–there are no women.
The publication not only recognizes athletes from 22 countries and 11 different sports, but also depicts signs of inequality. Many analysts have noted that these disparities are nothing new. The gender pay gap has been consistently implemented since the dawn of labor division and organized workforces, and is still fought over to this day. Whether women in professional sports win or lose does not appear to matter in regards to the monetary benefits they receive in comparison to their male counterparts.
The United States women’s soccer team, one of the most successful teams in the league, were allotted $2 million when they won the Women’s World Cup in 2015. Many would consider this amount to be fair and sufficient for their careers. Unless, perhaps, they saw the statistics for their male counterparts. According to The New York Times, the USA men’s soccer team “received $9 million when the men’s team advanced to the second round of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.” Despite not making it past this stage, they earned $7 million more than the women’s team that won the whole event.
High school athlete Emily Snyder says, “If men get $7 million more than women, there is obviously something wrong with that. Men shouldn’t have bias in sports or in anything.”
Examples of this gender pay gap are prominent in sports across the world. For example, reports state that male basketball players in the NBA can make nearly 100 times what women in the WNBA can earn at the same level and league. University of Georgia Chair of Sports Journalism and Media professor Vicki Michaelis says that these statistics may be in place because “women’s sports don’t have the same revenue as men’s sports do.” In other words, sports such as the WNBA do not draw in enough paying people or financial support to be equally paid themselves.
When asked how this gender pay gap could be improved, Professor Michaelis said, “It really comes down to growing an audience. We need to get more people in the media interested in it.”
Many people believe that it is the fans’ fault for not attending the women’s sports events, as well as media broadcasters for not highlighting women’s sport games on their larger platforms. This may be why the current generation is seemingly more focused on encouraging and challenging media directors to showcase female athletes and their stories.
Just recently, the United States women’s hockey team won a gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Behind the scenes, however, they fought a long legal battle of false promises. The women were told they would be paid up to $70,000 a year, but only received $6,000. After calling out the USA hockey officials and protesting for their rights, they finally received equal pay after the Winter Olympics.
It is also important to recognize that conditions have improved over the years. According to BBC, in 1985 only two sports offered equal prize money for winning. As of 2017, 20 major sports offer the same monetary rewards.
Advocates say that there is still much more work to do, however, and that female athletes need the equal pay they deserve. People hope to one day see a gender-blind sports world that helps to financially secure all athletes from every walk of life.