April 03, 2006

Equal Pay for Unequal Play

The French Open announced recently that equal prize money will be offered to both the men's and women's champions for the first time in its history. On the surface this is certainly a great thing. After all, women deserve equal treatment in any workplace.

What usually flies under the radar is that, in the major tournaments, women tennis players are on court for approximately two-thirds the amount of time as men due to the fact that women play 3-set matches compared to 5 in the men's game. Some would further argue that the competitive depth on the women's side is not on par with the men either. While true, I find the second case to be less relevant than the first, simply because we cannot expect women's tennis to achieve equal depth without the promise of equal pay.

The issue of court time, however, bothers me. Everyone recognizes the inequity of paying two equally qualified business-people the same sum of money when one goes home three hours earlier than the other. Why do we treat tennis differently? Male tennis players are subject to far greater risk of injury, must train harder, and dig deeper in order to find success at the highest level.

My comments might make me appear to be against women's rights in some capacity, but that could not be farther from the truth. I am all for equal pay for men and women in sport or otherwise. I just think those benefitting from said equality should have to earn it on relatively equal terms. Why can't a woman play a five set match just like a man? This commonly accepted restriction seems more sexist to me than the more noticeable money issue.

Feel free to prove me wrong. I am open to criticism.

Posted by Andy at April 3, 2006 03:47 PM to the Sports category
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