Women play the same games, with the same equipment and for the same amounts of time as men. The difference between the two: their pay. Since the enactment of Title IX, many professional sports opportunities have been opened to women. Women coach, referee and participate in many major sports including football, tennis, soccer, and even NASCAR. While it may seem like a large step in the right direction, there is still a far way to go to achieve equality.
One of the largest issues, the pay gap, is a problem that transcends all aspects of society. On average, a women makes 80 cents for every dollar made by a male counterpart. In the sports world, the disparity is even more alarming. Recent figures form the National Women’s Soccer League shows that the women players make an average of $99,000 per year, provided the team wins 20 exhibition matches, the minimum number of matches they would play. Men, on the other hand, earn an average of $263,320 for the same feat and still earn $100,000 even if the team loses all 20 games. Women receive no extra pay for playing any additional matches above 20, while the men earn anywhere between $5,000 and $17,625 for each additional match.
This means, on average, men make two to three times as much as women playing the same sport. The pay gap isn’t caused because of more support for men’s teams. In fact, the women’s teams in the last World Cup had the highest number of viewers, some 25.4 million, for a soccer game, mens or womens, in the United States.
The trend also appears in basketball. According to Newsweek, in 2014, 52 National Basketball Association (NBA) players each earned more than all of the players in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) combined. The league minimum in the NBA this season is $525,000. The WNBA league minimum last summer was $38,000. While it is important to note that the women have a 34 game regular season in comparison to the 82 game season of the NBA, the wage gap still demonstrates women earning less than one-sixth the salary of their male “equals.”
Tennis is one of the most lucrative sports for women. It is the only sport which lists women on Forbes “world’s highest paid athletes” list. Maria Sharapova placed 26th ($29.7 million) and Serena Williams 47th ($24.6 million).
While it is important that women do have a step up in the world of tennis, their place in most other sports has a long way to go. It doesn’t make sense that someone doing the exact same job should be paid so much less than a man. If they play the same game, and are good at it, they should be compensated for the work they complete.