It’s been an ongoing debate that has caught fire in recent years.
There have been gender pay gaps in almost every area of the industry and sports is no different. However, there are specific reasons as to why this is the case in sports.
Forbes released the top 100 highest-paid athletes of 2019, and all but one are male athletes. Tennis player Serena Williams was the only female, coming in at No. 63.
So why is this the case?
First, media coverage plays a significant role in a sports’ popularity. Male sports have consistently had higher production value. However, the WNBA recently added a multi-year partnership with CBS Sports Network to air 40 games this season.
More television exposure for the players will lead to more visibility, and more visibility could lead to major deals with endorsers in the future.
However, there is another problem.
Economic returns also become a factor in paying athletes. Concluding the 2019 WNBA season in September, the league said an average of 6,535 fans attended each game, down 3.5% from the previous season and more than 10,000 less than the NBA games. Despite more television exposure, attendance and popularity was down.
Another reason for a gender wage gap is biological differences between the sexes. Female athletes do not have the same level of athletic performance as male athletes.
Studies have shown that males have up to 30% have more muscle, higher blood volume and more red blood cells. Therefore, males have better world records than women.
“Men are generally better at sports than women because they have different muscular builds than women,” editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire Ben Shapiro said. “In the same way that a little league baseball game is not the same as a major league baseball game, female and male sports are different.”
In 1998, Karsten Braasch, a male tennis player who ranked No. 203 in the world, beat Serena Williams 6-1 and Venus Williams 6-2 after the Williams sisters claimed they could beat any male tennis player outside the top 200. They were wrong.
“I didn’t know it would be that difficult,” Serena said. “I played shots that would have been winners on the women’s circuit, and he got to them very easily.”
Pretending that different genders do not have specific differences in physical capabilities has been ongoing theme, which believes that equal pay must be guaranteed regardless of entertainment value and product revenue. But wishes do not shape reality, and making Americans believe in mythology is counterproductive.
An event that also caught the world’s attention was the outcry of “equal pay” from the U.S. World Cup soccer team. After winning the 2019 World Cup, the entire team demanded equal pay to its male counterparts.
But looking at the value each World Cup inherits tells a complete opposite story.
According to the Washington Post, the men’s 2018 World Cup brought in $6 billion. The participants split $400 million, or seven percent of the total revenue. Meanwhile the women’s 2019 World Cup generated $131 million, while the participants are splitting $30 million, or nearly 23% of total revenue.
In this case, the women, while receiving smaller paychecks, are better compensated.
With all that said, there’s a reason the average WNBA salary is $130,000, while the NBA is $7.7 million. It has a lot to do with television exposure, economic return and biological differences.
There are instances of gender pay discrimination, but the vast majority are simple ones and zeros. Male sports have been far more popular than female sports across the spectrum.