The case to justify equality of prize money for men and women in professional sporting events is a deeply flawed one. What determines value is the marketability of the product not some vague concept of sameness masquerading as equality.
To make the simplistic argument that two athletes, one male the other female, both number one in their sport are otherwise monetarily equal strains common sense. Putting them in a contest with each other would provide humbling proof of this myth. Athletes are not commodities; they have unique and very different brand applications, appeal and merchantability.
Because world number one tennis star Novak Djokovic commented that men’s tennis is worth more because of bigger audiences and Indian Wells tennis tournament CEO Raymond followed up with a comment that woman’s tennis success, ..”rides on the coat-tails of the men.” may both be described as indelicate remarks, but that does not make them inaccurate ones.
US federal legislation in 1972, commonly known as Title IX, ushered in women’s athletic opportunities in the nation’s schools by making it law that resources and programs equal to the existing men’s programs be put in place for female athletics. This is federal legislation that applies to educational institutions that receive any form of federal funding. There is no Title IX compliance obligation outside of that federally defined parameter, in the real world, markets determine access.
Equality of access to programs and resources is not the same as insuring equality of outcomes as a result of that participation. That concept is the antithesis of competition; athletes compete in order to defeat their opponents. Equality of outcomes would make sporting events senseless.
Basketball’s March Madness is the perfect example of this nonsense of “equality.” Practically the total annual NCAA budget is underwritten by television and sponsorship revenues from the Men’s National Basketball Championship tournament, some $900 million dollars worth. A team’s appearance, even without a win is still a $1.67 million payday, $8.3 million if they make the Final Four. TV ads are well over $1.5 million for a 30-second spot. Nine billion dollars, or more than twice the amount wagered on the Super Bowl, will be wagered on this college basketball tournament. Almost five times as many TV viewers will watch Men’s versus Women’s tournament basketball.
The NCAA Woman’s Championship involves no money back to teams and not one women’s basketball program in the NCAA is profitable.
The Declaration of Independence states that, “All men are created equal..” This does not mean that they stay that way; it simply provides a starting point in a contest we are all participants in, the game of life.
There is a dangerous breed of thought alive in this country that believes that the equality of access to opportunity is the same as the guarantee of an equality of outcomes. This is not only false, but it undermines success, self-esteem, competition and the rugged individualism that defines this great country and her citizens.
The market defines value through its willingness to pay for the experience, it makes no difference if its men’s sports or women’s, deal with it.