It’s 2016 and female athletes are still making 30% less than male athletes. Women who also consider themselves to be sports enthusiasts are asking themselves “Why haven’t the rules of the game changed? Shouldn’t female soccer stars, tennis players, and basketball players make the same amount of money as their male counterparts?” The question can be answered in two parts; overall revenue and the willing to strike. Female athletes may certainly be deserving of the gross income that male athletes generate yearly and as much as I hate to say this, they need to fight for it as we’re used to doing throughout history. Lack of sponsorship and general interest towards women’s sports keep them reaching their highest earning potential and the media only perpetuates the hidden coverage of female sports accomplishments by continuing to highlight and promote male-centered sports events.
With the exception of the WNBA, female featured sports events receive less interest when compared to the male version of the events. The fewer tickets and merchandise that are sold for example, to a tennis match, the less overall revenue is generated by the sports industry that owns the teams and hosts the events. The less amount of coverage a game or event receives, it’s less likely that a female player or team will be offered adequate sponsorship. Women’s teams need more funding that only can be achieved through awareness. According to womenssportsfoundation.org “for a WNBA player in the 2015 season, the minimum salary was $38,913, the maximum salary was $109,500, and the team salary cap in 2012 was $878,000. For NBAplayers in the 2015-2016 season, the minimum salary is $525,093, the maximum salary is $16.407 million, and the team salary cap is an all-time high of $70 million.” The NBA is the only female sport that has garnered the same amount of interest and sold-out seating as their male counterpart- the NBA. Yet, due to lack of coverage propelled by refusal to sponsor, the women of the WNBA are paid much less than male basketball players.
What can female athletes do to increase their chances of increasing their annual income? Sports commentators and journalists suggest a walk-out. Since Billie Jean King refused to play in the US Open in 1973, there hasn’t been a single strike against female athletic wages. Dave Berri, a renowned sports economist, said of King’s success, “She got wages changed by just threatening not to play anymore. And, that really is the story of sports. And we’ve seen this throughout the history of sports. If the players are not willing to walk away, they cannot change their wages.” Female athletes shouldn’t have to throw down their sneakers for equal rights and pay but in today’s world, a woman’s got to do, what a woman’s got to do. By attending local sports events, reading up on online news coverage for female sports, and by purchasing products from companies who support female athletes, you could make a world of change one step at a time.