HowToBet.Com Shares That Male Professional Athletes Earn Exponentially More Money Than Women ― But Not For The Obvious Reasons HowToBet.com breaks down the gender gap in professional sports salaries
HowToBet.com outlines the sports pay gap and the reasons behind it in the recent article “Gender Pay Gap: Understanding the Gender Gap in Sports Pay.” The U.S. women’s soccer team has made international headlines with their campaign to bring their salaries and benefits on par with the U.S. men’s team. But the pay difference between female and male professional athletes is not limited to the country’s top soccer stars. In fact, the gap is even larger in many sports, and staggering across the board.
The National Basketball Association’s (NBA) highest player for the fifth year in a row is Stephen Curry, with a salary of $45,780,966. Curry earns over $550,000 per regular-season game. By comparison, Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) legend Sue Bird earns the league’s maximum salary of $221,450 per year, or $6,900 per regular-season game. Bird’s salary is matched by just six other top performers in the WNBA league including Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi. To reach parity, the women would need a 20573.27% raise.
The NBA’s audience and marketing revenues are famously huge, but HowToBet.com dismantles the argument that women’s professional athletes’ salaries are always objectively dictated. The U.S. women’s soccer team brought in $50.8 million in revenue in 2016 to 2018, while the U.S. men’s team brought in $49.9 million during that time. Merchandise was also selling well, with Nike CEO Mark Parker remarking on a 2019 earnings call that the USA women’s home jersey was the best selling soccer jersey, men’s or women’s, ever sold on Nike.com in one season.
Yet, in the 2021 season, women’s players’ salaries ranged from $22,000 to $52,500 while no male players earned less than $63,547 (the baseline for the reserve roster). The average male player earns $398,725 while, according to the National Women’s Soccer League Players Association (NWSLPA) estimates, three-quarters of the women players earn $31,000 or less. Earlier this year, the NWSLPA launched a campaign called #NoMoreSideHustles to bring awareness to salaries below a livable wage.
Performance is also not a reason for the soccer pay disparity. The women’s soccer team has consistently far outperformed the men’s team in competition, with a FIFA ranking of #1, four world cup titles, and seven Olympic medals ― four of them gold. By contrast the men's team is ranked #13 by FIFA, has never won a world cup, and has failed to qualify for the last three Olympic games.
Even in their losses, the men are better compensated. After winning the World Cup in 2015, the women’s team received a bonus of $1.725 million from the United States Soccer Federation. The men’s team, eliminated in 2014 in the 16th round,earned an extra $5.375 million. Team star Megan Rapino has publicly stated that men are “compensated on the potential that they show,” whereas “women are so often paid on what they have actually done — which normally I would say, we outperform what our contract was.”
The issue is not limited to basketball or soccer, but widespread, with the British Open, the U.S. Open, and the PGA Championship offering men’s first-place prizes over $1 million above the women’s. This takes place despite large viewership and wide sponsorships for the women’s competitions.
HowToBet.com looks at arguments like the theory that women’s leagues and high performance competition are relatively new and still maturing as commercial entities. The WNBA was established in 1996, whereas the NBA began in 1946. But this argument for “organic” growth does not account for non-market driven resistance.
A major hurdle is attitudes. British tennis player Andy Murray, who advocates for equal prize purses in his own sport, claims that some male tennis players are deeply opposed to women receiving equal pay. Murray said in a CNN interview that some male players he has spoken with would prefer lower first-round elimination checks, for example, than higher ones that were matched by women players.
HowToBet.com considers these attitudes and how they may affect the future of the pay gap, proposing that as the women’s teams become better established, their stars will have more bargaining power. Another possible influencer could be the newer niche sports like CrossFit, which have inherently more gender parity. Not incidentally, CrossFit Games has always offered an identical prize purse for male and female competitors.
For More Information
To learn more about gender inequalities in sports please visit https://www.howtobet.com/understanding-the-gender-gap-in-sports-pay/.
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