Below is a link to a very interesting article written by Donnovan Bennett and posted earlier today at http://www.sportsnet.ca. The article presents a different viewpoint on – and potential solution to – the recent controversy surrounding the United States Women’s National Soccer Team’s dispute with U.S. Soccer over wage discrepancies between their team and the U.S. Men’s Team, which eventually led to several members of the Women’s Team filing a wage discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Bennett’s argument in this article is that the members of the U.S. Women’s National Team – as well as other prominent female athletes in other sports – should approach the issue of wage discrimination not from a philosophical viewpoint, but rather from a commercial one. As he puts it:
“What if we reframed the conversation from “equal” to “fair”? Make it less of an arbitrary decision, remove any altruistic reasoning for why women’s pay should increase and make this solely a business conversation. We could look at the amount of revenue that both the men’s and women’s sides bring in for the federation—whether through gate revenue or jersey sales or TV ratings—versus the amount of investment made by the federation in the respective teams and then agree on a set percentage of soccer-related revenue after expenses that the teas should be entitled to. That might be a start.”
Personally, I think this viewpoint makes a lot of sense. I attended two FIFA Women’s World Cup matches last year. One of them – a group match in Winnipeg’s Investor’s Group Stadium between the U.S. Women’s Team and Sweden – attracted a live attendance of over 30,000 people.
I also got to work with our own Canadian Women’s National Team during the 2015 Pan-American Games in Toronto, where Hamilton’s Tim Horton’s Stadium sold out to its 12,000-seat capacity for some of the Women’s Football (soccer) matches, including Canada’s final group match versus Brazil on July 19th, 2015.
Of course, as Bennett points out, live attendance or gate revenue in only part of the total revenue that women’s soccer can generate (the other components being TV ratings, and sales of merchandise such as team jerseys), however, the sport is clearly gaining in popularity, both in North America as well as around the world. He goes on to note that the Final match of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, between the U.S. and Japan, drew a U.S. TV audience of 25.4 million viewers (more than any game in the 2015 NBA Finals, or Sunday Night Football, or any of the coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi).
I say that, if the United States Women’s National Team can prove that they are able to generate as much – if not more – revenue than their male counterparts, then a strong argument can be made for their wages and compensation to reflect this ability.
Below is the link to the full article. As always, please feel free to post your thoughts and comments.