Wimbeldon to pay equal prize money

The Wimbledon Championships have announced that the prize money for both the men’s and women’s brackets will be equal. The checks will be the same all the way down the line. That means that 3 out of the 4 tennis Grand Slam events have eliminated any disparity in prizes. The French Open agreed to pay the men’ and women’s champion the same but all other places maintain the disparity.

This is interesting to think about because the argument against equal payments was fairly straight forward. Men’s sports generate more revenue thus allowing for greater prize money. More people will come to a golf course and watch TV if Tiger Woods is playing vs. Annika Sorenstam. Higher gate receipts plus higher TV ratings equals higher prize money.

Let’s look at it this way. That argument works if you remove gender. More people watch a run of the mill PGA tournament then the Tour of California. Therefore, the prize money disparity between the two sports.

Let’s look at cycling. At the local Tour of Somerville, I see the crowds build during the day and peak for the Men’s race. The women’s race draws 70 – 75% of the fans. Of course, there is no TV. The Pro race in Philadelphia actually have the men and women competing at the same time. The TV only follows the men however. What does that mean to women’s cycling?

She Cycles by the Seashore has put some thought into this already. I don’t think the US cycling circuit is financially ready to up the prize money for women given the current revenue level. So I ask, how can we raise the tide to lift all boats? My daughter loves the women’s race and I think this is a great learning experience. She sees unselfish teamwork, sacrifice, hard work as great life examples.

So, how do we level the playing field? That’s a good question. I don’t have the answer right now other than to kick in some prime money for the women’s race in Somerville this year. This way my daughter sees some reward for hard work and sacrifice.

Think of it this way, cycling is the only major sport where you do not have to pay to attend. There is no stadium, no tickets. While that makes cycling a great deal, no attendance money can go to the riders. If I buy a pretzel, that money goes to the concession. If I buy a t-shirt, that money goes to the race organizer.

What if we create a fan’s prime? Put in what you think would be a fair “ticket” price. That money becomes a prime equally split across all the races for the day. Just a few bucks per person would add up to a decent amount.


2 Responses to Wimbeldon to pay equal prize money

  1. Debby says:

    PJ, Thank you for bringing attention to such an important issue. I didn’t know about Wimbledon, so that was a happy surprise.

    Maybe this is one of those issues that requires change on multiple fronts. I think we women have taken for granted that the men’s sports are always on TV, and ours are not, so we’ve gotten used to it, to the point of not questioning it. I wonder if any female sports fans out there email the sports channels and ask for more coverage of women’s golf/basketball/cycling, etc? I’ll be honest and say I have not. Given the state of u.s. cycling, to see more cycling on TV period would be great!

    Then I wonder if perhaps we need to approach more businesses run by and for women, and ask them to sponsor TV coverage of women’s sports. My “fun with sponsors” post aside, I wonder if any of those businesses that support women’s services or products would be willing to pay for some TV time, on principle of making women’s sports more available for young women to watch? I think the clothing and cosmetic industries should give some thought to the positive advertising they could do re: beauty and health inside and out, by sponsoring women’s sports (Dove would be ideal, with their real life beauty campaign). And the government, with their ongoing obesity studies, could play a role in motivating young people of both genders to get out on bike or with a golf club.

    Lastly, I think adult women, or at least any woman with some buying power, should try to support the companies that are currently sponsoring women’s sports. I’ll try to support these companies as I learn of them — hard to identify them if they’re *not* on TV and races are not local. I love your idea of a fan’s prime too.

    Sorry to go on, but it’s my hope that one day women like myself, and your daughter and the Fredcast daughters, will get to see and hear the women’s cycling news just as much as for our favorite men’s cycling teams. 🙂

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