“Thank God for Men”: Why athletes are paid less

WOMEN’S SPORTS SUCCESSES ARE OBVIOUS IN THE WORLD, BUT EQUALITY in sports often remains only a semblance, although the situation is certainly improving. Sport is a very conservative sphere, where women are still either pointed out to their “right” place (“What hockey? Better to do rhythmic gymnastics”), or are allowed to participate, but discriminated against unequal opportunities or pay compared to men, inappropriate jokes and offensive comments. It comes to the point that women are forced to hide their gender and compete under male names in order to practice some sports . Understanding why men’s sports are encouraged more readily than women’s sports, and whether women should compete separately from men.    

Sexism in sports is not so obvious, because now no one forbids women to go in for sports professionally (not like almost a hundred years ago), to participate in competitions and the Olympic Games (in 2012, for example, 269 ​​athletes came to the London Olympics – the number of men was less; at the same Olympic Games, women’s boxing was presented for the first time). These arguments lead many to believe that equality in sport has been achieved. However, to think so is to see only one side of the coin.    

According to a BBC study, women and men receive equal pay in 83% of sports today. Of course, this is more than half, and since 2014, when the previous study was conducted, the rate has grown by 13%, whereas in 1973, in no sport were men and women equally encouraged. And yet, the difference in the salaries of athletes and female athletes is still too large. Thus, the highest paid men’s soccer players receive hundreds of thousands of pounds a week; at the same time Stephanie Houghton, the Arsenal women’s star and the highest paid female footballer, makes around £ 70,000 a year.      

Monetary inequality can also be observed in tennis, where it would seem that women are doing better than in any other sport. But while Roger Federer wins $ 731,000 in singles at the Western & Southern Open, Serena Williams (21 Grand Slam leaders, which even men have not achieved in tennis) will receive only 495,000 for winning the same fight among women. Different prize pools are often explained by the different popularity of men’s and women’s competitions – for example, one of the best tennis players in the world, Novak Djokovic, relied on attendance statistics . But today, at major tournaments, the organizers distribute the awards between participants of different genders equally. That does not negate gender scandals : last year it was unleashed by Raymond Moore, the director of the Indian Wells tournament, who said that tennis players “do not decide anything”, “live off the men” and should be glad that they enjoy the privileges gained by some of them, while exactly how men “move the sport forward.” “If I were a WTA tennis player, I would thank God on my knees every evening for Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, ” added Moore (who lost his post following the discussion), however, Federer himself took the women’s tennis side in this dispute.         

Women “got hold of” big sports relatively recently, and society still continues to restrict their access, indicating that they have no place there.

Sometimes more is spent on male athletes than on female athletes. The International Cricket Council, for example, paid for the flight of men to the Twenty20 Cricket World Cup in business class, while economy seats were bought for women from the same team. The prize pools at this tournament for men and women also turned out to be unequal: in the first case, the winners were paid $ 5.6 million, and in the second – only 400 thousand.  

Such situations always end in loud scandals, but the topic has not yet been closed. The problem is that what is happening in the professional arena largely determines the models of behavior in amateur sports, that is, it broadcasts the same stereotypes. It is not surprising that plots with inequality unfold periodically, for example, during amateur races. In 2016, within the framework of the Kharkiv International Marathon, the declared prize for female winners at a distance of 42.2 kilometers was two times less than the award for men – 10 thousand hryvnias (almost 22 thousand rubles) were intended for that. The organizers of the event found their own explanation for this: not only were the results for this distance low in last year’s race, few women participated in it (15 versus 182 men). 

Under the pressure of public outrage, the organizers of the marathon nevertheless equalized the women’s prize fund with the men’s, and some male eyewitnesses to the scandal admitted that they did not understand why women’s participation in the marathon should be paid worse.

The experience of the world’s largest marathons, however, shows that it is at least rational to reward men and women equally (regardless of the number of participants). Long-distance running allows you not only to test yourself, but also to make money. The Boston Marathon, for example, pays participants of any gender $ 150,000 for first place, $ 75,000 for second place, and $ 40,000 for third place. Of course, over the years, winning the Boston Marathon becomes more and more difficult, as the standards are constantly decreasing, and the cost of the registration fee remains very high. However, the fact that anyone can do the race naturally increased women’s engagement. Needless to say, they completely managed to regain their positions and show that amateur running can be practiced for a variety of reasons: to conquer new heights, keep yourself in shape, for the sake of pleasure or charity, and for a thousand more of the same reasons. And these reasons are equally important for women and men.  

Of course, some sports are indeed less in demand among women than among men. But the problem here appears to be a double-edged sword: on the one hand, women have “got hold of” big sports relatively recently and society still continues to restrict their access, indicating that they have no place there. On the other hand, women are still under pressure from the idea of ​​truly “feminine” and truly “masculine” sports; in Russia this division is preserved to a greater extent, but in other countries of the world it has not disappeared anywhere. This division is not only unfair, but also harmful, because in sports, as in business, competition is necessary to avoid stagnation. And while children are taught that ballet is better for girls than boxing, and boys are forced to choose martial arts instead of ballroom dancing, the sport loses, perhaps, more motivated, more enthusiastic, more talented participants.  

The typical notions that women should not or should not engage in “male” sports are even today so strong that they force women themselves to abandon their interests: they are convinced that they will become “less feminine” or ” less beautiful ” because of bruises and injuries. Traditions are extremely stable, and breaking the usual way means leading life into chaos, which many are afraid of. This vicious circle leads to the fact that women’s sport falls into isolation: it has fewer participants and spectators, less money is invested in it, which means that it develops worse than men’s. 

In England, women could not play football professionally for fifty years – the rest of the world in football matters, of course, was equal to England

Most of all today goes to women’s football, especially in Russia. The main problem is that almost no one knows about him. Women’s salaries remain scanty compared to those of Russian footballers. Moreover, things are going badly even for the women’s national team, not to mention small club teams. Sponsors do not seek to invest in women’s football, to popularize it, since the idea of ​​its secondary nature is widespread, and the sport itself seems to be something incomprehensible and frivolous. A common stereotype also captures the audience: the less they talk about women’s football, the less they watch it.  

“Football in Russia and throughout the world is considered a men’s sport,” says Vladimir Dolgiy-Rapoport, founder of the GirlPower women’s amateur team. – But a funny thing happened to football: in England (where the sport originated and developed), both men and women played it in the same way. When the First World War began and the men went to the front, the women stayed behind and continued to play football. At the same time, they began to collect real, large stadiums. When the men returned, it turned out that men’s football was no longer needed by anyone, as the women’s game had become much more popular. They decided to fight this and soon found a simple solution: they banned professional women’s football, saying that this is a “rough game” and women cannot behave like that. As a result, women in England were unable to play football professionally for fifty years, and thus women’s football was killed. The rest of the world, which undoubtedly looked up to England in football, adopted this structure: if their women do not play football, then they will not be here either. Therefore, women’s football is considered to be something conditional ”.  

In Europe and the United States, women’s football seems to be a little more fortunate, although stereotypes have also found place here, as evidenced by the difference in salaries of male and female players. In a recent interview, Nadya Karpova, a women’s football star now playing for Valencia, said she decided to leave the country when she saw how many fans this sport is gathering abroad, while “in Russia, three people consistently go to see you “. It is quite symptomatic that the promising athlete preferred cooperation with a foreign club, albeit less profitable, for fear of “withering away in the Russian championship”. It’s not only about money, but also about the prospects, which are so far unhappy for women’s football in Russia.  

Nevertheless, Alla Filina, coach and co-founder of GirlPower, believes that women’s football is gaining well-deserved popularity, “the speed of the game is growing, the girls’ technique is incredible, and besides, they have long ceased to train them on a leftover basis (when not the strongest coaches are given women’s teams instead of men, “so that it is not offensive.” – Approx. ed.). Very soon we will see how women’s football will become, if not as popular as men’s, but much more popular than other team sports (including men’s). And the money will come there. It is a long, thorny path, there is other money, but it will be there sooner or later. ” Large companies have already started investing in this sport, although so far we are talking only about one case: recently adidas prepared a special uniform for GirlPower football players. For such club teams, this is a rarity, and before that only the women’s national team of the country had a special uniform, and usually football players have to wear men’s kits.     

The good news is, perhaps, that women are increasingly being taken seriously and allowed to compete with men. Thus, the International Olympic Committee has introduced several new mixed disciplines to the program of the 2020 Winter Olympic Games. This is done in order to get rid of gender preponderance, increase the proportion of women in competitions and bring the number of athletes and athletes to a ratio of 50 to 50. Some of these disciplines suggest that women will be able to compete not only with an athlete from another team, but also with a male rival. It can be assumed that someone will take this initiative with hostility, but in reality, in some sports, restrictions on gender are not justified.  

local_offerevent_note August 1, 2021

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