This week, our token Sports Contributor Joshua Jayde tries and fails to make sense of deeper issues in sport.
Bridging the Gap:
Inspiration for this column came as I looked up from my phone for only the second time that day, to look out the window of my bus. Looking for a topic which was light, funny and cheerful, I finally realised what I wanted to write about: deeply rooted and corrupt gender inequality in sports!
Outside, I saw an advertisement for the New Zealand Police featuring the Northern Netball player Eseta Autagavaia, who also has a job with the Police. In the news that week was the Netball World Cup; New Zealand, having just won the pinnacle tournament in the sport, were awarded less than I was when I finished 6th in a 12 team orienteering fun run, or more precisely, nothing. Why do these players get so little, and why do they need jobs outside of their sport, when men’s teams in so many codes of sport get paid hundreds of thousands if not millions a year?
Netball is a hard sport for adequately quantifying inequality, as it is predominantly a women’s code. However, it seems unfair that the team gets nothing from the tournament for winning a World Cup (on top of their salaries). In comparison, the prize money for just turning up to the FIFA World Cup is $8 million, coming second in the Cricket World Cup, like the Black Caps did, is $3 million, while coming third in your local pub quiz gets you (if you’re lucky) a $50 bar tab. In fairness, some sponsors such as ANZ and Sky have pledged prize money to address this, but it still pales in comparison to the men’s codes in many other sports.
Take football, the sport that spends 11 months of the year building up to the moment when your chosen club finally scrapes together enough money to buy another icon for their Instagram. In June we had the Women’s World Cup, which showcased all the best of sport – drama, technical skill and politicians getting into Twitter spats with players. It also provided an opportunity for the teams, particularly the USA team, to push for equal pay. This team just became world champions for the fifth time; the men’s team couldn’t even make it to the World Cup after losing to Trinidad and Tobago, a country most Americans don’t even know exists, but guess which team gets paid more? Unsurprisingly, at the end of the World Cup, all 28 players in the women’s squad filed lawsuits against US Soccer (*shudders uncontrollably at the word Soccer*) over the pay disparity.
But why is this such a big deal? Many people (mostly men, for some reason) point to various reasons, such as “the harsh realities of the market”, television ratings, and that men’s sport is better to watch. But is this really true? FIFA, just to take football as an example, has so much money that its President and world’s richest bowling ball, Gianni Infantino, feels comfortable making jokes about how much of it is just sitting, unused, in Swiss banks. I could bore you to death about television ratings stats and wages, in fact I probably already have, but it doesn’t take a genius to see that they don’t match up. Women’s sport deserves the same investment as the men’s sport, and in fact, there is a way!.
Tennis, a sport which still struggles with the technological concept of a roof, is perhaps the most progressive of all the major sports in that it actually gives equal pay to both women and men in the Grand Slam tournaments. This has led to huge growth in the women’s game, technically and financially, and it has become just as popular as the men’s game. What’s more, the first tournament to pay equally was in 1973! In comparison Women’s football has only been legally allowed in England since 1971. Tennis shows how easily this problem can be addressed, but with the top sports’ boards filled with balding millionaire men, it may take much more than a lawsuit to finally bring some balance.
Springboks Riding High
The All Blacks drew with South Africa the other week after a last minute try by young halfback Herschel Jantjies allowed the Springboks to level the scores. This means that South Africa have now been awarded the World Cup on number of points scored by players under 1.7m.
Go The Warriors
After some very contentious (a phrase used in sports commentary to mean downright suspicious) calls against them, the Warriors’ coach has suggested spectators bring their own whistles and dress up as referees at their next home game.
To all you misogynists out there who made it this far; women’s sport is just as good as men’s sport. Deal with it.