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Women’s World Cup Pay Disparity Is Due To The Marketplace, Not Discrimination

U.S. Womens National Team World Cup

In the wake of the impressive win of the U.S. Women’s National Team on Sunday, Mary Pilon at Politico raises a point that I’ve seen repeated in other venues over the past two days, namely that the winning team of the Women’s World Cup will get paid a fraction of what the participants in last year’s 2014 FIFA World Cup were paid:

CHICAGO — This is a Great American Sports Town and here it was that I watched the Women’s World Cup, taking place 3,500 kilometers away in Vancouver, Canada. By kickoff Sunday night, hundreds of soccer fans had poured in to Lincoln Park to gather around a mammoth screen to watch the U.S. team face off against Japan.

Under a cinematic sunset, they banged drums, blew horns, waved American flags which were on hand from July 4 celebrations the night before. They hooted from the beer garden and leapt on top of picnic blankets during each one of the four American goals in the first half of the game, making for a scoreboard that felt at times more like a March Madness basketball game than professional soccer.

The Women’s World Cup has remained a feel-good event in spite of this tournament’s off-field distractions. Those included, but were not limited to: the domestic violence allegations against U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo and how U.S. Soccer handled them; the peril (and humiliation) of competing on artificial turf; and the searing indictments from U.S. federal investigators against FIFA, soccer’s governing body.

(…)

Yet the total payout for the Women’s World Cup this year will be $15 million, compared with the total for the men’s World Cup last year of $576 million, nearly 40 times as much. That also means that the Women’s World Cup payout is less than the reported $24 million to $35 million FIFA spent on its self-aggrandizing fiction film, United Passions.

The National Women’s Soccer League (yes, there is one and you should consider following it) has salary ranges reportedly from $6,000 to $30,000, which in some cases may put players below the poverty line in the cities in which the compete. Each National Women’s Soccer League team operates with a salary cap of around $200,000, which is about how much David Beckham makes frying an egg (let alone bending one). The MLS salary cap, by contrast, was $3.1 million in 2014. “In aggregate, first division women’s soccer players are making 98.6 percent less than professional soccer’s male cohort,” according to Fusion, making it one of the starkest gender pay divides in any workplace.

Similar posts making this argument have appeared elsewhere around the Internet at sites such as Jezebel, Salon, and Think Progress, and the basic gist of all of these articles is that this is somehow evidence of sexism and gender bias and that the pay disparity between participants in the two tournaments is inherently unfair and cannot be justified. When one actually looks at the facts, however, it seems fairly clear that there is logical explanation for the disparities between the men’s World Cup and the Women’s World Cup. The biggest difference, of course, is that the World Cup, which I will use to refer specifically to the men’s tournament next scheduled to be held in 2018, draws far more worldwide viewership and, thus, far more, sponsorship money, than the women’s does. This will likely always be the case regardless of whatever arguments one might make regarding comparisons of the quality of play between the two games, but in time it’s likely that the women’s game will gain more of a following worldwide, which will lead to better broadcasting deals and likely better revenue sharing for the teams and the players. Additionally, given that this is FIFA we’re talking about, I won’t rule the possibility that corruption plays a role in all of this. Nonetheless, the fact that the men’s tournament gets far higher worldwide viewership than the women’s tournament is something that can’t be denied, and it’s the main reason why the women’s tournament generates far less money.

This pay disparity isn’t just limited to the World Cup, of course. It can seen all across professional sports, and again the answer can be found in the fact that the team sports that feature men generally make a lot more money than the teams sports that feature women. This is true in basketball, where NBA essentially subsidizes the existence of the WNBA in no small part because it helps with the leagues marketing to female fans. It is also true in professional soccer, where Major League Soccer has been quite successful over the past decade while one women’s professional league after the other has collapsed largely due to non-interest, low attendance, and a lack of broadcasting. These differences exist largely because of the choices that fans and viewers make, and to ascribe them to sexism or discrimination as some people have is really quite absurd.

While I’m not a fan of the game, the U.S. women deserve much credit for their victory on Sunday. The fact that they’re going to get paid less than their male counterparts, though, is just a fact of life and not some grand conspiracy for the “social justice” warriors to campaign about.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Of course, that leaves unaddressed the reasons that fewer people watch women’s soccer.

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  2. Pete S says:

    The fact that they’re going to get paid less than their male counterparts, though, is just a fact of life and not some grand conspiracy

    Yes, this. I would hope that anyone complaining about the disparity in compensation actually buys tickets to watch women’s soccer whenever they can, as well as subscribing to channels which may show the games when they are on and actually watching them.

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  3. Franklin says:

    Regardless of the direct pay disparities, I suspect many of the U.S. women will be commanding some extra-nice endorsement deals soon. Carli Lloyd in particular will get whatever she wants.

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  4. @Dave Schuler:

    Is that even a relevant question, though?

    To me, it’s either because they don’t enjoy it or they aren’t interested. Perhaps that will change in the future, but I don’t there’s anything nefarious about it (not that I’m saying you were suggesting that).

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  5. @Franklin:

    Carli Lloyd will get some nice endorsement deals, yes. But it’s likely they won’t be as nice as some of deals for the top players in the NBA or NFL.

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  6. Davebo says:

    The audience for the women’s final exceeded those for the recent N.B.A. finals and for last year’s World Series. In fairness, though, World Cups and Olympics come along every four years and are not directly comparable to annual best-of-seven series.

    Still, it has to come as something of a surprise that Game 7 of the compelling World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants in October attracted 23.5 million on English-language television, or two million fewer than the American women drew on Sunday night.

    Explain that again Doug?

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  7. al-Ameda says:

    I watched and enjoyed the Women’s WC this year, but it does not take a lot of observation to note that on the Womens’ side the overall number of very good teams and the level of fast-paced skilled play is far less than that in the Mens WC.

    On the Womens’ side there were only about 4-6 teams worth watching, and the American side was clearly best. On the Mens’ WC side there were about 12 really good teams that played at a very high level.

    Maybe the pay disparity gap will change as the popularity and number of highly skilled women in their respective national sides increases. I would hope so.

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  8. There were also a LOT of empty seats in the England match for 3rd place…at a once every four year event?

    What were the ratings for that?

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  9. stonetools says:

    The pay disparity gap between men and women in tennis has largely disappeared. Maybe the same thing will happen in soccer, although both sports are vastly different.
    It’s interesting that Doug doesn’t want to really explore the issue of sexism in sports. Well, maybe he shouldn’t go exploring stuff he doesn’t understand, or want to understand.

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  10. @Davebo:

    Would those ratings have been the same if the US team wasn’t in the final? I’m going to guess the answer to that is most likely no

    Additionally, we’re not just talking about the US here, we’re talking about the entire world, and remember that the broadcast contracts were negotiated based on the ratings for the last Women’s World Cup in 2011.

    So, you really haven’t made a relevant point there.

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  11. Jasper says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Yeah, it’s relevant. Dave’s got it right. You’re starting in the middle of the process not the beginning. The beginning would be asking why do fewer people watch female sports compared to male sports, since I agree that’s what drives salaries. I don’t think you can say sexism is entirely beside the point.

    I’ve had my eyes opened this last year on sexism. In the same way that white people refuse generally to admit that race is a problem, men refuse to admit that the treatment of women in a problem.

    Look at it this way. Say we were talking the old negro leagues in baseball. Smaller audiences = less money. Fair enough. Now. . . why were fewer people watching negro leagues baseball when by every account it was every bit as good as major league baseball?

    Our men lose at soccer. Our women are world champions. And they’re paid a fraction of what the men earn. I don’t think we can just blame the marketplace.

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  12. michael reynolds says:

    Yeah, it’s relevant. Dave’s got it right. You’re starting in the middle of the process not the beginning. The beginning would be asking why do fewer people watch female sports compared to male sports, since I agree that’s what drives salaries. I don’t think you can say sexism is entirely beside the point.

    I’ve had my eyes opened this last year on sexism. In the same way that white people refuse generally to admit that race is a problem, men refuse to admit that the treatment of women in a problem.

    Look at it this way. Say we were talking the old negro leagues in baseball. Smaller audiences = less money. Fair enough. Now. . . why were fewer people watching negro leagues baseball when by every account it was every bit as good as major league baseball?

    Our men lose at soccer. Our women are world champions. And they’re paid a fraction of what the men earn. I don’t think we can just blame the marketplace.

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  13. Ron Beasley says:

    The Portland MSL team always sells out, the women’s soccer team never. Portland’s NBA team always sells out the women’s professional basketball team never. That pretty well sums it up.

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  14. @michael reynolds:

    The beginning would be asking why do fewer people watch female sports compared to male sports

    Because they find it less entertaining perhaps? People make all kinds of subjective judgments in choosing the forms of entertainment they like, ascribing it to sexism is essentially arguing that there can be legitimate reason for someone to prefer, say, the MSL or NBA, over whatever the newest women’s professional soccer league is called and the WNBA. This seems especially out of line when one considers the fact that, quite often the quality of play is simply not as good (see, e.g., the WNBA)

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  15. Hal_10000 says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Well, that and soccer is a global sport. The men’s tournament last year drew over three million fans, twice as many as the women’s. Global TV figures are shaky, but are in the area of a billion viewers. The women’s tournament is probably looking at 50 million or so. So women’s soccer is a success in America (at least during World Cup and Olympics time) but not around the world.

    I think we may see the attendance/viewing come up in the Western World, much like it has a for tennis. But it’s clearly a very long haul until women’s soccer is the global religion men’s soccer is.

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  16. Pete S says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I don’t think we can just blame the marketplace.

    I think we can blame the marketplace IF the sports marketplace is sexist. That is probably what is happening here. Although there may be isolated exceptions, by and large the audiences for women’s events are lower than for men’s. When that changes there is more money in the system and the women get paid more.

    And I repeat the best way to change the dynamic is for people to start buying tickets for women’s sports as well as watching them on TV. Any of us who are not going to the games, aren’t helping.

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  17. @Hal_10000:

    The men’s tournament last year drew over three million fans, twice as many as the women’s. Global TV figures are shaky, but are in the area of a billion viewers. The women’s tournament is probably looking at 50 million or so. So women’s soccer is a success in America (at least during World Cup and Olympics time) but not around the world.

    Yes, exactly

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  18. al-Ameda says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Would those ratings have been the same if the US team wasn’t in the final? I’m going to guess the answer to that is most likely no –

    Dead on right. Americans are very even-spectacle oriented … if we’re participating.
    I doubt that ratings would have spiked for, say, a Germany-Japan final

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  19. al-Ameda says:

    @Hal_10000:

    The men’s tournament last year drew over three million fans, twice as many as the women’s. Global TV figures are shaky, but are in the area of a billion viewers.

    3 Million? That has to be wrong.
    In 2010, the Netherlands-Spain WC final drew nearly 1 billion viewers alone.

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  20. superdestroyer says:

    Other than Tennis and figure skating, womens sports generally are a much smaller deal than their male counterpart. How many people do a bracket for the women’s NCAA tournament? How many have ever been to an LPGA event? or an WNBA game?

    And it is not sexism that there are not spectators in the stands. Women just do not support sports as much as men and will not support women’s teams.

    And yes, one of the problem with women’s sports is that the talent is shallow compared to mens sports. In the women’s NCAA tournament, there is no equivalent to Butler or Gonzaga. The top few schools win. in women’s tennis, it is not as competitive as men’s. And in soccer, only a few countries put any effort into women’s soccer.

    Womens sports depends much more on the casual fan who does not really follow the sports (see Figure Skating) and there is no way to sustain pro leagues with casual fans only.

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  21. @al-Ameda:

    I will let Hal answer for himself but I presumed he was talking about person watching the games in person at the various venues

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  22. James Pearce says:

    If it was just sexism, the LFL would be blowing up the world. And yet….it’s barely making it. Something else is going on.

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  23. pajarosucio says:

    Clicked the link expecting a careful analysis correlating FIFA’s net revenue stream for the men’s and women’s tournaments to their respective payouts, showing no bias except what the market bears. Instead, got drunk uncle level conjecture.

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  24. Hal_10000 says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Yes, that was attendance … tickets sold. Three million. Global viewership (TV, internet, etc.) was about a billion.

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  25. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Because they find it less entertaining perhaps?

    Perhaps because the only women’s sports men find entertaining are sports that involve tiny, often underage women and girls wearing leotards in the case of gymnastics and lingerie in the case of skating.

    Lousy men’s team = well-paid. World Champion women’s team = minimum wage.

    Men will only watch women’s sports when the women are sexualized. I’m sorry, but it’s the truth.

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  26. Hal_10000 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    That’s not necessarily true. During the Olympics, women’s swimming is very popular, despite the women wearing very unsexy swimsuits. Women’s soccer is popular. Women’s softball was popular while it was an Olympic sport. Women’s basketball does well at Olympics time. Women’ snowboarding and speed skating do well in the winter Olympics. By contrast, Women’s cycling can’t draw crap in the ratings, despite skintight outfits. And the sports with skimpy clothing — gymnastics and ice-skating in particular — tend to be extremely popular among women. And many of the popular men’s sports feature extremely ripped men in little or skintight clothing (e.g., gymnastics, track and field) which my wife, at least, appreciates.

    Bill James once made the point that a lot of sports are designed for men and designed to highlight men’s abilities (strength, speed, etc.). The women’s sports that are successful are ones that highlight women’s abilities (coordination, grace) like gymnastics or ice-skating. I would add that you can also find success where the competition level is close (tennis, track and field) or where women can make the game different (e.g, women’s soccer is more fluid and has a lot less flopping around). In fact, women’s gymnastics made changes a few years ago to de-emphasize pure athleticism in favor of poise and grace, including putting a lower age limit on international competition.

    I’m not convinced of this hypothesis, but it’s a thought that’s been rolling around in my head for a while.

    Re: sexism. There is one point here that I think is relevant: FIFA hasn’t cared to hype the sport or develop it. And when their dictator for life was known for making sexist comments about the sport, you have to wonder if they’re content to let it rot. I certainly don’t think they’re putting the effort in to make it more successful.

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  27. @michael reynolds:

    I don’t know many men who line up to watch women’s (or men’s) figure skating or women’s (or men’s) gymnastics to begin with so i don’t think your hypothesis holds water. I’d suggest that @Hal_10000 is onto something.

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  28. george says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    Of course, that leaves unaddressed the reasons that fewer people watch women’s soccer.

    Ultimately because more men watch men’s soccer than women watch women’s soccer. And that’s the story with just about all sports but gymnastics, figure skating and tennis.

    If as many women watched women’s sport as men watch men’s sport, there’d be no pay discrepancies. The people who want higher salaries for women’s sports are going at the wrong target; they should be aiming at getting women to watch women athletes. But even sports which in theory (grace based ones like gymnastics or figure skating) should be as attractive to women as the standard male sports are to men only sporadically draw women spectators – not enough to even keep professional leagues in those sports going. That’s not discrimination, just a reflection that women generally prefer to spend their entertainment dollars differently than men.

    Basically, professional sport is entertainment; if you aren’t entertaining people enough to draw the salary, you’re not going to get the same pay. I played in a band in high school – we didn’t exactly draw as many spectators as say the Stones or Beatles – was that unfair and discrimination?

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  29. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Men will only watch women’s sports when the women are sexualized. I’m sorry, but it’s the truth.

    That is –no doubt– true.

    It’s also true for women. I know a lot of women who love football, but it’s not because they’re students of the game. It’s because they think Russell Wilson has a cute butt or they want to bone Rob Gronkowski. I don’t consider this a great tragedy. Yet more truth: Athletes are sexy and sex appeal is one of the reasons we’re drawn to them.

    (I don’t understand the gymnast thing, though…..ick. I do understand, however, why beach volleyball is such a popular Olympic attraction.)

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  30. Hal_10000 says:

    @george:

    The NFL, at least, has data showing that about 45% of NFL fans are women and they’ve made a concerted effort to get women to watch. I’d be curious to see what the figures are for World Cup.

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  31. wr says:

    @stonetools: “The pay disparity gap between men and women in tennis has largely disappeared”

    It’s worth noting that the disparity in tennis didn’t just disappear. Starting with Billie Jean King and the founding of the WTA, women tennis players have been fighting for equal pay, often against ferocious opposition, even from some of the male players. Even at times when women’s tennis was more popular than the men’s game, women were paid less. And all the defenders of the status quo used Doug’s argument — “Hey, it’s just the way things are, go figure.”

    It IS just the way things go — until someone changes them. Amazing how those who benefit from the status quo are usually the ones who believe there’s no way of changing it…

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  32. wr says:

    It’s always amusing to see that those who claim most loudly to worship the market seem to understand almost nothing about it.

    Why does women’s soccer get lower ratings then men’s? I’d say one good reason is BECAUSE the women are paid so much.

    You value something exactly as much as you pay for it — ain’t that the market in action? And Fifa pays pennies for the women’s game… and so they put pennies into it. What do you think the promotional budget for the men’s game is opposed to the women’s? What kinds of resources do the men get that the women don’t?

    And by the way, the head of the sport once suggested that the women’s game would be more popular if the players wore tigh shorts, which might suggest something about the way he valued their work.

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  33. george says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Perhaps because the only women’s sports men find entertaining are sports that involve tiny, often underage women and girls wearing leotards in the case of gymnastics and lingerie in the case of skating.

    Maybe it’d be better if there were sports designed for women which didn’t involve tiny, often underage women?

    The Canadian women’s hockey (multiple time Olympic gold medal and world champions) practices against high school boys teams – and generally loses to the better ones. They’re simply slower and less powerful than even high school boys, let alone world class hockey men. If you’re selling a sport on speed and power (which hockey does) is it surprising its hard to get a lot of fans to watch women’s hockey except for special occasions like the Olympics?

    I don’t watch basketball, but I’m told the same thing exists there – a sport whose popularity is based on athleticism and actions like dunking doesn’t translate well to the women’s league, where only a handful of players can dunk.

    The US women’s soccer squad practices against high school boys teams (and the boys have to be told not to take advantage of size). The Williams sisters lost to a 200th ranked male tennis player.

    Women playing the same sports as designed for men is not going to work out well in general; they’re slower and less powerful, and it shows in the play.

    As you pointed out earlier, there could be sports that emphasize women’s athletic strengths (flexibility and grace for instance); so far two (figure skating and gymnastics) tried to make professional leagues, but women weren’t interested in watching. Men watching or not watching women’s sport is largely secondary, it should be women watching women’s sport. Until that happens its odd to expect men to watch women’s sport.

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  34. Keith says:

    Lots of possible reasons for the disparity, but FIFA needs to be mentioned. Blattner is a flagrant sexist–explaining that more people would watch women’s soccer if they wore tighter, skimpier kits. He allowed the WWC to be played on turf that damages skin; something he’d never allow for the men. He couldn’t even risk attending the matches for fear of arrest thus the president of the sport’s body was not at the title match.

    I don’t watch the WNBA, but I think the NBA has the right idea. Subsidizing the women’s game grows the pie for everyone. WNBA salaries aren’t great. Certainly they are not in the same stratosphere as the men’s game. But several of the WNBA franchises are legitimately popular franchises and women came make a living playing the game. Instead of making a ridiculous FIFA movie, they could have spent another $28M in prize money on the women’s game. (Or $28M in subsidizing their various regional women’s leagues.)

    (That said the US is still way ahead in women’s sports equality on an international scale thanks to title IX. I hope that the popularity of women’s soccer receives a steady boost from this experience.)

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  35. James Pearce says:

    @george: Just saying….

    This:

    Women playing the same sports as designed for men is not going to work out well in general

    is rather sexist.

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  36. wr says:

    @george: “The Williams sisters lost to a 200th ranked male tennis player.”

    And Bobby Riggs kicked the stuffing out of that loudmouth feminazi Billie Jean King.

    Oh, wait…

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  37. al-Ameda says:

    @Hal_10000:
    @Doug Mataconis:
    Thank you both for the clarification

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  38. Lit3Bolt says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Doug, acknowledging sexism exists and influences the world and its markets does not give you liberal cooties. You will not turn into a shrieking SJW (believe me, we’d be worried about you if you did).

    I think the main reason there’s anger over the women’s pay is because FIFA is the paymaster, and for FIFA, 2 million dollars to them is equivalent to what you and I have in our couch cushions. It’s a hotel bill for them. Not a single person to my knowledge is demanding that FIFA start paying the women champions the equivalent of the men champions. Just maybe a little bit more than what Sepp Blater uses to light a cigar.

    As for the market not being there, I think there’s interest and desire, but no money being invested, as Hal10000 pointed out. There’s tons of girls looking for physical sport role models and tons of boys looking for crushes. A girl’s sports career doesn’t have to end at high school and college. And I think people are saying if there was a little bit more money involved, on all sides, maybe it wouldn’t.

    However, the difficulties of developing a thriving women’s sports market makes that a moot question. I’m surprised no one’s pointed out that it’s not just lack of interest, but that the market is already saturated with men’s sports.

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  39. george says:

    @wr:

    And Bobby Riggs kicked the stuffing out of that loudmouth feminazi Billie Jean King.

    Oh, wait…

    Bobby Riggs was over 50 years old and not even in the top 1000 male tennis players at the time.
    The Williams sisters were the two top ranked female players at the time. You’re seriously not helping out women’s sport by pretending that the top players are equal in ability to the top men – saying that raises the obvious question of why have women’s sports in the first place if they can compete well against men.

    A lot of men who don’t like women playing sports take that line – let the women play against the men in a single division, and they’re supported by people like you who think that’d lead to something other than almost no women playing high level sports (seriously, look at the times in track, the weights lifted in weight lifting).

    Women playing sport is very important – healthy body in a healthy mind is a good ideal, and sport teaches a lot of things. Throwing that away on some imaginary pretense (the top women can play toe-to-toe with the top men) feels good ideologically, but in practice it means almost no women will be involved.

    Haisley Wickenhouser, for many years the best woman hockey player in the world (captain of Canada’s team) tried playing professional men’s hockey on a B level team in Finland – and dropped out because she was too small, too weak, and far too slow. Is that what you want for women’s sport? I like the current system better – women in the Olympics, women playing professional sport as a role model for young girls. And the way to get that is to keep separate divisions.

    The problem is that women aren’t watching women’s sport (they don’t watch as much sport as men to begin with, and even then they tend to watch men’s sport). But all the current sports were designed by men for men; maybe women would watch women’s sport (and put as much spectator dollars into it as the men do for men) if there were sports designed for women.

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  40. george says:

    @James Pearce:

    This:
    Women playing the same sports as designed for men is not going to work out well in general
    is rather sexist.

    No, its simple biology. Sexist is saying men are better than women in all sports; saying women would be better at sports designed for them, and men better at sports designed for them is simply common sense.

    And currently all the sports have been designed for men. Who would you expect to do better at them?

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  41. It’s been suggested that Bobby Riggs threw the match against Billie Jean King.

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  42. @Lit3Bolt:

    I’m not really sure what you’re suggesting here. Individual sports consumers make the decisions they make for their own subjective reasons. The fact that you might disapprove of them is, in the end, irrelevant. Now, if you think you have some great marketing idea that will turn the WNBA, the Women’s World Cup and women’s professional soccer into huge money-making businesses then you’re probably wasting your time commenting on the Internet and you should be making phone calls to sell people on that great idea of yours.

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  43. James Pearce says:

    @george:

    No, its simple biology.

    Maybe I misunderstood you then. Because most sports are not “designed for men.” They’re designed for people.

    Basketball, for instance, is a game that can be played by kids, teenagers, women, men. I once saw a one-armed kid RULE a high school game. It was lay-up city, I’m telling you. But yes, it’s true: that one-armed kid wouldn’t stand a chance against Stephen Curry or Brittney Griner and yes, biology has a role to play.

    But there’s nothing biological saying that women need new sports uniquely suited to their physiology.

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  44. Pinky says:

    Doug, ever since your article about the General Lee, these stories are getting run though my “is it silly?” filter. This one didn’t make it through.

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  45. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    Female tennis players managed to get pay parity on prize money, but not on endorsements nor sponsor ships. On the other hand, on Grand Slams men play best of five sets, women best of three.

    And frankly, anyone that watches Wimbledon prefers to watch a generic match with women players to a generic match with male players?

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  46. @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    Are you sure about the endorsement thing? To the extent I see endorsements in the media from tennis players it’s usually women at this point, typically Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. But that’s here in the United States and, to be honest, we don’t really have any male tennis stars in the US right now, I’m not sure what it’s like in the rest of the world.

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  47. Lit3Bolt says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I’m saying that if it’s a PR stunt, then make it a good one. FIFA can afford it, the market can bear it, the women will be happy, and rather than getting their palms greased by Russian oligarchs and Arab oil shieks, they can point that they are into something more positive than having their offices raided by federal agents.

    2 million dollars for the winning team is an insult. A slap in the face. Plus they were forced to play on artificial turf! Did the “market” decide that?

    Saying FIFA is making these arbitrary decisions based on the “market” is like saying the “market” decided Russia and Qatar should be World Cup hosts.

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  48. @Lit3Bolt:

    That’s up to FIFA, as I understand it the compensation levels that we are discussing are based on the currently existing contracts and those contracts, presumably, are based on the expected revenues from the men’s and women’s World Cup Tournaments.

    Do I think that the players the Women’s World Cup should be paid more than what they are apparently getting? Yea, I guess I do, but that ‘s not my decision to make.

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  49. bill says:

    it’s like the nba compared the the wnba…
    but there’s a silver lining, some of these chicks can strip and make money! i love America!

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  50. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Maria Sharapova has more endorsements than Serena Williams(Probably the best female player in History). And that has more to do with race and sexism than with tennis.

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  51. @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    It’s marketing and consumer taste dude, only idiotic Social Justice Warriors ascribe it to prejudice.

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  52. J-Dub says:

    @michael reynolds: Men will only watch women’s sports when the women are sexualized

    It certainly helped women’s golf, which is painful to watch otherwise.

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  53. rodney dill says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Men will only watch women’s sports when the women are sexualized. I’m sorry, but it’s the truth.

    While that may be true in general for some, I can’t accept that as an absolute. I’ve watched Women’s tennis and golf, and I watched the FIFA championship regardless of the sexualization of the participants.

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  54. george says:

    @James Pearce:

    Basketball, for instance, is a game that can be played by kids, teenagers, women, men. I once saw a one-armed kid RULE a high school game. It was lay-up city, I’m telling you. But yes, it’s true: that one-armed kid wouldn’t stand a chance against Stephen Curry or Brittney Griner and yes, biology has a role to play.

    But there’s nothing biological saying that women need new sports uniquely suited to their physiology.

    Sure, but the problem is Brittney Griner wouldn’t stand a chance against Stephen Curry either, so if people want to watch the best basketball players they watch the NBA and not the WNBA. That’s not sexism, that’s simply wanting to watch the best (ie the ones who would beat everyone else). Fine, except it means less people (including women it seems) watch the WNBA, and so they get paid less.

    If you want women in sport to be paid as much as men in sport then they have to draw as many spectators, and that seems to mean they have to be competitive with the top men. And in most sports that’s not the case, largely because those sports are designed to make speed, strength and size a major advantage.

    Brittney Griner would beat 99.9% of men in basketball (seriously, most guys aren’t as good as they think they are). Unfortunately to play at NBA levels and make NBA money, she has to play as well as the top .0001% of men, and she’s nowhere close to that.

    If your argument is that women can play any sport, then I absolutely agree. If you’re saying that the absolute top women can play every sport at the same level as the absolute top men then you’re clearly wrong, and that is what the pay gap reflects.

    If something like figure skating was a high spectator sport that wouldn’t be true, because women do it as well as men. However attempts to make a pro league out of it failed, and women were no more likely to watch it than men.

    The argument against watching a women’s pro hockey league in Canada is why pay to watch the equivalent level of play as mid-level high school boys hockey team. Because hockey rewards speed, power and size.

    A team sport which rewarded different athletic attributes (co-ordination, dexterity, grace, flexibility) would have women competitive with the men, and so watching the women would be watching the best in the world rather than a high school equivalent.

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  55. James Pearce says:

    @george:

    If you’re saying that the absolute top women can play every sport at the same level as the absolute top men then you’re clearly wrong, and that is what the pay gap reflects.

    George, how is something like this not sexist?

    At any rate, I think it’s an unsatisfactory answer to the question of why women in pro sports get paid less than their male counterparts. Take the “5 whys” approach. See if it takes you to the same place.

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  56. Pinky says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    Maria Sharapova has more endorsements than Serena Williams(Probably the best female player in History). And that has more to do with race and sexism than with tennis.

    You’re just using buzz words now. Now is Maria versus Serena sexist? As for racism, about 95% of potential consumers in all demographics would rather look at Maria than Serena. That’s lookist or something, not racist.

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  57. SenyorDave says:

    @george: Very well stated. No WNBA team would stand a chance against a Division I men’s team. The speed and strength differential is just too great. Univ. of Tennessee, an historically top women’s basketball program, has scrimmaged against a hand-picked group of male college players. The male players are selected by the coach Pat Summitt, and she intentionally wants players of certain skill and size limits. Despite these players being nowhere near talented enough to make the men’s team, they occasionally defeat the women’s team.

    As others have stated, sports like basketball and hockey put a premium on speed and strength. The speed of NBA players is astounding. Even scrubs would dominate any the WNBA. And exactly what would Brittney Griner do against some of these 6’10″” centers who are built like bodybuilders?

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  58. Pinky says:

    @James Pearce: You asked how that statement of George’s isn’t sexist. My question would be, how is it sexist? Name a sport in which the absolute top women can complete equally with the absolute top men.

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  59. James Pearce says:

    @rodney dill:

    I watched the FIFA championship regardless of the sexualization of the participants.

    I daresay that women’s sports might be more popular, and thereby more lucrative, if this was a more prevalent attitude.

    Take the LFL. Their outfits are ridiculous but these women are serious about the sport. How many of them are sports heroes despite the fact that they have to wear completely inappropriate uniforms?

    (Of course, I’m operating on the assumption that the sexualization of athletes is inevitable in our culture. Our puritanical instincts often seem to make us more prurient and all that.)

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  60. James Pearce says:

    @Pinky:

    Name a sport in which the absolute top women can complete equally with the absolute top men.

    NASCAR. Danica Patrick may not be that woman. But tell me why the hypothetical Top Woman couldn’t drive a car better than the hypothetical Top Man.

    But again, this is all a diversion. We’re not talking about women competing against men. We’re talking about women competing against women and getting paid less than the men.

    We can argue Curry-Griner match-ups all day, but it won’t bring us closer to answering the question of why women’s sports are less lucrative. If your answer is that men are more “top level,” that’s fine. But then you have to answer the next question.

    Why do the “top level” women make less than the “top level” men? And this is where the “men are better athletes” thing falls apart, and left standing there naked, it just comes off as sexism.

    Trying to be fair, maybe it’s not. But it’s not a satisfactory answer to the question posed.

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  61. gVOR08 says:

    Apropos of nothing in particular, I watch as much women’s tennis as men’s because the women’s game is more like I play. I can’t begin to match the men’s power game.

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  62. Pinky says:

    @James Pearce:

    But again, this is all a diversion. We’re not talking about women competing against men. We’re talking about women competing against women and getting paid less than the men.

    It’s important that you get this connection. We are talking about women competing against men – for viewers We want to watch competition at the highest level. Most people don’t watch HS sports, for example, unless their kids are on the team. A high-schooler could be playing his heart out, and have natural talent, but he’s not going to be as good as a more developed professional. The most developed professional athletes at the top of their games are men in nearly every sport.

    [Edited to add – I should have read your whole comment before I posted this. Really, all I want to say is contained in my second sentence. The rest is ground we’ve already covered.]

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  63. SenyorDave says:

    @James Pearce: Why do the “top level” women make less than the “top level” men?

    Maybe because in the case of the NBA vs WNBA, the NBA TV contracts bring in well over $10 million per team annually. That is not to mention the other income sources (clothing and NBA logo merchandise). Most people have no idea when the WNBA season is, much less what network the games are on. Is it sexist? Doesn’t really matter what the reason people don’t watch the games, they just don’t. And their salaries reflect that fact. The average NBA player makes over $5 million a year, and I don’t see the owners going broke.

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  64. James Pearce says:

    @Pinky:

    The most developed professional athletes at the top of their games are men in nearly every sport.

    I’m sorry, Pinky, but Lindsey Vonn, Ronda Rousey, and US Women’s soccer team beg to differ.

    If you want to say that the most developed professional athletic organizations in nearly every sport are devoted to men, yeah, okay. I’d agree. The NBA has 50 years on the WNBA, and FIFA and pro-tennis’s antipathy towards women is well-documented.

    I guess what I’m trying to get at is that the alleged inferiority of women athletes doesn’t account for the pay gap. Even if you adjust the scale down, and not saying that needs to happen, “top level” women don’t make as much as the men. Maybe it’s the market. Maybe it’s sexism. Maybe it’s that pro sports for women is still an immature market, hamstrung as it were by a legacy of sexism.

    It could even be something else. But it’s not because the men are superior athletes.

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  65. stonetools says:

    @Pinky:

    Dunno about all demographics. I do think Serena Williams is being penalized for being black and female, here.

    Let’s compare this to the NBA and Michael Jordan. Jordan was the greatest player of his era , and he got endorsed that way. It would have been inconceivable for a very handsome white basketball player of considerably inferior skills to receive more endorsements than Jordan.That just doesn’t happen in male sports, or at least to a much lesser extent.
    I guess I would have to concede that people just look at female atheletes in a different, more sexualized way.Hopefully, that’s changing, and we’ll look at female atheletes in terms of their abilities and not whether they fit the European sterotype of feminine beauty.

    Hey, guess this makes me a Social Justice Warrior! (High fives self).

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  66. Pinky says:

    @James Pearce:

    I’m sorry, Pinky, but Lindsey Vonn, Ronda Rousey, and US Women’s soccer team beg to differ.

    I don’t think any of them have competed against men. The only event I can think of where men and women compete regularly is marathon racing, and men always win. The last major M-F competition I remember was Annika Sorenstam, who lost badly. I’m wondering if maybe we’re having a terminology problem here? Because what we’re talking about is thoroughly documented. The top women would lose to the top men in every sport I can think of.

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  67. Franklin says:

    @Pinky:

    I generally agree with you that the biological limits are different between men and women, but it’s possible that women have more endurance at very long distances:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9044230
    http://www.runnersworld.com/trail-running-training/why-women-rule-ultrarunning

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  68. wr says:

    @stonetools: “Hey, guess this makes me a Social Justice Warrior!”

    The dictionary definition of “social justice warrior” is “name truly stupid perpetual adolescent losers call anyone who cares about another human being.” Why Doug decided to adopt this is beyond me. It’s generally used only by those “men” who feel that an appropriate response to a woman having an opinion on anything is to threaten her with rape.

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  69. James Pearce says:

    @Pinky:

    The top women would lose to the top men in every sport I can think of.

    It’s not a terminology problem. It’s a can’t get you out of your framework problem.

    Considering almost no sports is organized in a way that women compete against men, this argument has no relevance. It keeps circulating back to the idea that NBA players make more because they’re better than WNBA players. And that may be true, but –this is the salient point– it does not account for the pay gap.

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  70. george says:

    @James Pearce:

    George, how is something like this not sexist?

    Its sexist in the same way that saying only women can get pregnant is sexist – that is, its based on biological differences (top level men are bigger, stronger, and faster than top level men, mainly because of sexual differences in testosterone production). I suppose that’s technically sexist, but usually the word has a different connotation – it suggests making an artificial barrier based on sex when no real difference exists. NASCAR for instance would be an example of an artificial barrier – now broken. Shooting and archery had them as well.

    But if you want to label that as sexist, go for it, though a lot of things are going to be called sexist (pregnancy for instance) – though I’m reminded of that scene in Life of Brian where they decide one of the men has a right to become pregnant.

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  71. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    It keeps circulating back to the idea that NBA players make more because they’re better than WNBA players. And that may be true, but –this is the salient point– it does not account for the pay gap.

    You’re right, it doesn’t. What does is really rather simple: there isn’t as much interest in women’s sports as in men’s. Interest = attendance and TV viewers = revenue = pay.

    The question you’re really asking is “why isn’t there as much interest?” And there’s no single-factor answer to that one.

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  72. george says:

    @James Pearce:

    Why do the “top level” women make less than the “top level” men? And this is where the “men are better athletes” thing falls apart, and left standing there naked, it just comes off as sexism.

    Okay, let me reverse that. Why should the world’s best woman’s hockey team, the Canadian national team (okay, tied with the US team for that) be paid more than a high school boy’s team that beats them consistently? I’d argue it’d be sexist to pay the women’s team more than the better boy’s team just because they’re women.

    In fact, I think you have the sexism in reverse – its sexist to pay someone more than their ability level warrants because of their sex. Paying the top women’s hockey, basketball and soccer teams more than a man’s team that could beat them (again high school teams) would be sexist, because the criteria for pay would then be their sex and not what they can achieve.

    I don’t think you understand the basis for calling something sexist.

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  73. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    I think the most interesting feature of the side road the argument about men’s v. women’s is that by taking that sde road, we managed to finesse the SCALE of the differential–

    [y]et the total payout for the Women’s World Cup this year will be $15 million, compared with the total for the men’s World Cup last year of $576 million, nearly 40 times as much.

    Is that a market-based distinction? I’ll let you champions of the free market decide…

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  74. Pinky says:

    @James Pearce: Have you ever watched men and women play basketball – separately? Men are much better. They can jump higher, they’re stronger, they’re better in every respect. No one would pay to watch men and women play basketball against each other because no one wants to watch a one-sided game. A few people have cited examples of top-ranked women’s teams playing against non-elite men’s teams. It’s not a competition.

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  75. Pinky says:

    @James Pearce:

    And that may be true, but –this is the salient point– it does not account for the pay gap.

    I don’t want to let that comment go by unnoted. Why do you say that it doesn’t account for the pay gap? Can you back that declaration up with anything?

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  76. mantis says:

    @wr:

    It’s generally used only by those “men” who feel that an appropriate response to a woman having an opinion on anything is to threaten her with rape.

    This is not accurate. I’m guessing you are conflating this with Gamergate (simplistically), but it predates that by several years. There is a population of supremely annoying, outrage-fueled “activists” on places like Tumblr, LiveJournal, and Twitter who are an embarrassment to progressives and social justice advocates everywhere. They are not bound by gender, as you imply, and they are opposed by many people who would never consider threatening anyone with anything.

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  77. Rafer Janders says:

    Perhaps the real problem isn’t with the question of the athletes: it’s with the fans.

    Men, as a group, spend a tremendous amount of time watching and following pro sports, buying merchandise, etc., and so throw off a truly staggering amount of revenue for the sports they follow.

    Women, as a group, just don’t watch sports in the same way. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of women who are sports fans, who have favorite teams, etc., but women, as a class, just don’t seem to subsume their whole identity into fandom to the same depth and breadth that many men do. The result, therefore, is that there’s just a lot less revenue available from them.

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  78. grumpy realist says:

    @Hal_10000: I put it down to who is sitting on the couch watching vs. who is doing the cooking in the kitchen. Not surprising that there’s less enthusiasm for women’s sports than there is for men’s sports.

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  79. george says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I put it down to who is sitting on the couch watching vs. who is doing the cooking in the kitchen. Not surprising that there’s less enthusiasm for women’s sports than there is for men’s sports.

    Single guys watch more sport than married guys (more free time). No one’s cooking for them (well, pizza places are, but they’re paid for it).

    And women find time to watch a lot of shows that men generally don’t watch (its made Oprah among others extremely rich). Why aren’t they watching women’s sport as well?

    There’s a cultural root there, but it continues even with a generation of girls who played sport as children grown into women who don’t watch sport.

    Though an interesting caveat is the same generation of boys (who play less sport and are less fit than previous generations) also watch less sport than before, often preferring video games to sport (active or as spectators). Maybe this whole thing will be sorted out by sports being replaced by video games, where there’s no advantage for either sex.

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  80. Pinky says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Men, as a group, …

    Women, as a group, …

    …women, as a class…

    Yeesh. They’re sexes (objectively) or genders (subjectively).

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  81. Pinky says:

    @grumpy realist: Yeah, ’cause men hate looking at women. Couldn’t be men’s superior athletic ability. It’s got to be because women are always cooking or something.

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  82. James Pearce says:

    @Pinky:

    No one would pay to watch men and women play basketball against each other because no one wants to watch a one-sided game.

    I bet a team of short ball-movers would beat a team made up of 7 foot ball hogs. This one-sided game would probably not draw a huge audience, I agree.

    Why do you say that it doesn’t account for the pay gap?

    Because I’m trying to draw the conversation away from that towards something else, something a bit closer to Mikey.

    The question you’re really asking is “why isn’t there as much interest?”

    Yes, Mikey! Thank you.

    I think Pinky and George partially answered it. Some people are not interested in women’s sports because they’re inferior. Others are interested in women’s sports so long as the athletes don’t become sex symbols. Others would be more interested if more athletes became sex symbols. What really makes sports interesting, though, is high stakes. 50 years from now, when the women’s sports have a storied history, they’ll also have higher stakes.

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  83. Grewgills says:

    mantis

    There is a population of supremely annoying, outrage-fueled “activists” on places like Tumblr, LiveJournal, and Twitter who are an embarrassment to progressives and social justice advocates everywhere.

    There are certainly some overzealous social justice advocates and the term SJW may have initially been targeted at them, but that is not the case now. Now the term is used largely by asshats who want to demean anyone who makes an argument that their privilege might be unearned. It has become a near equivalent to feminazi by not only gamergate types but any smug idiot that starts on third base and thinks he hit a triple.

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  84. James Pearce says:

    @Grewgills:

    Now the term is used largely by asshats who want to demean anyone who makes an argument that their privilege might be unearned

    Yes, there are many ass hats using the term in this way.

    But there’s a larger critique of “Social Justice Warriors” that really has nothing to do with gamers or with defending white male privilege. I think they’re counter-productive and rather superficial. (We’ve discussed this before.)

    For example, SJWs threw a fit over a slow-motion shot of Hope Solo drinking water during the World Cup. How is this supposed to build the audience for women’s soccer?

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  85. Pinky says:

    @James Pearce: Storied histories don’t help sports if no one’s interested in them. Boxing has a more storied history than MMA. Horse racing has a more storied history than NASCAR. People follow the sports with more action.

    And that suggests a more interesting way to look at the problem: what sports leagues have been successful with less exciting play? College sports are usually inferior in quality compared to the pros, but more energized. The most successful minor league sport I can think of is baseball, and they’ve done that through marketing. Low prices, family-oriented events, local feel. How could women’s sports duplicate those traits?

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  86. wr says:

    @mantis: Sorry, Mantis, but in my book the use of the phrase “social justice warrior” or its abbreviation is a key signifier that the writer/speaker is a moron. It’s up there with “feminazi” and “DemonRat” as proof that the user is a total loser.

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  87. wr says:

    @george: “Maybe this whole thing will be sorted out by sports being replaced by video games, where there’s no advantage for either sex.”

    Really? Are many men threatened with rape or murder for playing or having an opinion about video games?

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  88. PJ says:

    1992 – A woman, Zhang Shan from China, wins the gold in skeet shooting, a mixed event, at the Summer Olympics.

    1996 – Only men gets to compete in the skeet shooting event.

    But that was just a marketplace decision and not discrimination. Because no one wants to see men lose to a woman.

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  89. James Pearce says:

    @wr: @Pinky:

    How could women’s sports duplicate those traits?

    I dunno….but I think women’s sports needs to drops its more crusading aspects and embrace entertainment. Sports are a spectacle, not a lesson in fairness.

    @wr:

    “the use of the phrase “social justice warrior” or its abbreviation is a key signifier that the writer/speaker is a moron.”

    No offense, but this kind of over-simplified, nuance-free bitterness is one of the reasons why “social justice warriors” are so reviled.

    Usually a moron needs to do something, you know, moronic. Not just use the words you don’t like.

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  90. Grewgills says:

    @James Pearce:

    No offense, but this kind of over-simplified, nuance-free bitterness is one of the reasons why “social justice warriors” are so reviled.

    No offence, but the same people who use SJW as a pejorative are the same people that use feminist or community organizer as a pejorative.

    Perhaps at some point in history it was primarily used by people to refer to overzealous civil rights crusaders, but that is not how it is used today. Today that phrase is primarily used by idiots that think white christians are under siege by SJWs or libertarians that think any social justice should be found in the marketplace. When you use it, you don’t necessarily make yourself one of those idiots, but you place yourself in their company.

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  91. george says:

    @wr:

    Really? Are many men threatened with rape or murder for playing or having an opinion about video games?

    Sorry, I don’t get the reference. All I mean is that neither strength nor speed matter in video games, so neither gender has a biological advantage – like shooting, archery, NASCAR, equestrian, curling and bowling the playing field is level. Not sure how rape or murder play into it. However I don’t play computer games (other than chess – and sadly the computer beats me easily), so I could be missing something?

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  92. PJ says:

    @george:
    Gamergate

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  93. James Pearce says:

    @Grewgills:

    When you use it, you don’t necessarily make yourself one of those idiots, but you place yourself in their company.

    Trust me…I’m very wary of being associated with those idiots. Unlike the gamergate crew, I don’t disagree with the “SJWs” on the merits…just on their approach.

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  94. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “No offense, but this kind of over-simplified, nuance-free bitterness is one of the reasons why “social justice warriors” are so reviled.”

    None taken, and I’m not bitter. And I’m not even remotely what anyone would consider a “sociall justice warrior,” unless that phrase is so broad to be meaningless.

    But it is a phrase used almost exclusively by mouth-breathers, knuckle-draggers, “men’s rights activists,” Storm Front members, and the worst of the worst of the self-styled libertarians.

    It’s possible that some intelligent, non-bigoted, non-loathesome individual has used the phrase somewhere in the world. It’s equally possible that a truly lovely and wise individual would call me a kike…

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  95. James Pearce says:

    @wr:

    But it is a phrase used almost exclusively by mouth-breathers, knuckle-draggers, “men’s rights activists,” Storm Front members, and the worst of the worst of the self-styled libertarians.

    Yes, I know, and the perfunctory nature of the movement makes it very easy for these right-wing clowns to mock them.

    If there was a kinder, non-associative term, I’d use that. But there’s not. So I guess we’ll just have to stick with SJW, knuckle-dragging or not..

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  96. Pinky says:

    @Grewgills:

    No offence, but the same people who use SJW as a pejorative are the same people that use feminist or community organizer as a pejorative.

    Perhaps at some point in history it was primarily used by people to refer to overzealous civil rights crusaders, but that is not how it is used today.

    Actually, that might have been true even three months ago, but the tide has turned recently. Within mainstream nonpolitical culture, there’s a greater awareness of the term “social justice warrior”, and it doesn’t have positive associations. The turning point may have been the UVA rape story.

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  97. george says:

    @PJ:

    Gamergate sounds pretty awful, but it only involved a handful of the probably one hundred million plus people who play computer games around the world. That’s less than 0.001% of gamers.

    I think my point holds; in terms of biological attributes, neither men or women have an advantage in computer games. Socially its mainly guys (and geeky guys at that) who play, but both of those seem to be changing.

    I’m an old guy, I know mainly about computer games from friends and young family (well, actually young family of friends more than friends), and I think its really sad that people would rather play simulation sports on a computer than actually get out there and play sport. But it seems to be the future.

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  98. mantis says:

    @wr:

    Are many men threatened with rape or murder for playing or having an opinion about video games?

    Actually, yes. But they are threatened by other men. There is a lot of nasty behavior in the gaming community, and it’s not just towards women. In fact, they don’t always just threaten. There have been many cases of gamers being SWATed by other gamers, or even murdered (well, almost, anyway, in that case).

    But it is a phrase used almost exclusively by mouth-breathers, knuckle-draggers, “men’s rights activists,” Storm Front members, and the worst of the worst of the self-styled libertarians.

    Again, you’re wrong. You can just keep saying that without backing it up with anything, but it doesn’t make you any less wrong.

    I also doubt you really know much about the community of online “activists” to which this label applies. If you did, you would understand that many people who don’t fit your description above deplore them, and why.

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  99. george says:

    @wr:

    But it is a phrase used almost exclusively by mouth-breathers,

    This is a tangent, but what’s wrong with mouth-breathers? I know a few folks who can’t breath through their noses because of sinus problems, and they’re all pretty decent folk. One in fact is a philosophy prof who has an admirable publication record, is active in quite a few community causes (poverty and race relations among them), and whose students always give her excellent evaluations.

    When did sinus problems become synonymous with character?

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  100. stonetools says:

    Heh, apopros of tennis references above, Serena beat Sharapova again:

    LONDON — Serena Williams is back in the Wimbledon final, and still on target for a calendar-year Grand Slam.

    The top-ranked Williams maintained her 11-year dominance over Maria Sharapova, beating the Russian 6-2, 6-4 on Thursday to reach her eighth Wimbledon championship match and 25th career Grand Slam final.

    A win over Garbine Muguruza in two days would also be a big step toward winning all four Grand Slam tournaments in the same season, something that hasn’t been done since Steffi Graf in 1988.

    In beating Sharapova for the 17th straight time, Williams won her 26th consecutive Grand Slam match. She’s going for a fourth straight major title — a “Serena Slam” — and the third-leg of a calendar-year Grand Slam.

    Oh well, Serena probably will never be the endorsement leader- but she will be the leader in every way that matters. On to that record breaking 23rd Grand Slam crown!

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  101. Rick DeMent says:

    I might be able to buy the “woman can’t play at the same level men can, therefore it’s not as good to watch” argument if college Basketball and Football went so popular. Both those sports are a poor relative to the pro version from a skill point of view yet their popularity is on par.

    Now sometimes I make this argument and people will say things like, “it a different game, I like the defensive play of college basketball better.

    Oh I get it, if it’s guys playing the clearly inferior version of the game then we get all nuancey (same reason I like to watch WNBA games actually ). But the fact is that College sports are crap compared to the pro game, yet they get a pass for being inferior.

    Also there is some chicken and egg stuff here. There is no money in women’s sports so few women spend the time and effort to put in the same training time as men do, colleges don’t look the other way to NCAA rules violations as they do with the men. The sports where women can make some money are country club sports like golf and tennis or sports that are largely kids like Ice skating and gymnastics (where the parents foot the bill and you kind of have to be in a rich family to compete).

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  102. george says:

    @Rick DeMent:

    I might be able to buy the “woman can’t play at the same level men can, therefore it’s not as good to watch” argument if college Basketball and Football went so popular. Both those sports are a poor relative to the pro version from a skill point of view yet their popularity is on par.

    Except the woman play (certainly in soccer and hockey and probably football as well) at a high school level rather than a college level (judging by how they do when they practice with high school boy’s teams – can you imagine a college men’s team practicing against high school students because they need the challenge?). How popular are high school sports?

    Also there is some chicken and egg stuff here. There is no money in women’s sports so few women spend the time and effort to put in the same training time as men do, colleges don’t look the other way to NCAA rules violations as they do with the men.

    That’s definitely the case, and I suspect it makes a difference with spectator levels.

    It doesn’t seem to make any difference in top level athletic outcomes though; even in the old Soviet block, where girls were taken along with boys at a very young age and channeled towards Olympic gold for the glory of communism, athletic records for women (easy to compare in track for instance) where decidedly lower than for men. The fastest woman sprinter in the world, with a time that hasn’t been met in two decades, is slower than a lot of high school boys. That’s just biology, and you have to play with genetic engineering to change it.

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  103. Rick DeMent says:

    @george:

    That’s definitely the case, and I suspect it makes a difference with spectator levels.

    It doesn’t seem to make any difference in top level athletic outcomes though; even in the old Soviet block, where girls were taken along with boys at a very young age and channeled towards Olympic gold for the glory of communism, athletic records for women (easy to compare in track for instance) where decidedly lower than for men. The fastest woman sprinter in the world, with a time that hasn’t been met in two decades, is slower than a lot of high school boys. That’s just biology, and you have to play with genetic engineering to change it

    so what I never said they were equivalent, only that they can both be entertaining. But you don’t address the fact that college sports are as popular as pro sports when college sports are clearly inferior. It’s not about whether women can compete with men. In tennis the women’s game was more popular at one time and woman’s figure skating and gymnastics are more popular than the men’s equivalent. The question is why, which you don’t address.

    You are making the argument that the skill of the participants = interest when the example of college sports proves that’s not true.

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  104. george says:

    @Rick DeMent:

    You are making the argument that the skill of the participants = interest when the example of college sports proves that’s not true.

    Its not all of interest, but its certainly part of it. Otherwise why wouldn’t a closely fought football game between two teams of 6 year olds be as much as a draw as the NFL?

    Its likely that I’m overstating the draw of skill, and you’re understating it.

    Though actually I’d argue its more a question of athleticism than skill. The best women in basketball, hockey, soccer etc are as skilled as the best males; they’re just slower and less powerful. The Canadian national women’s hockey team is more skilled than the high school boys they lose too – their skill advantage isn’t enough to make up for the size, speed and power of the boys (and that’s even without allowing body checking).

    A better argument for your case is the example of lower weight divisions in boxing; Mayweather for instance would lose to any top ten heavyweight, but he outdraws all of them (partially because the heavyweight champ is a Russian not an American – if Tyson or Ali or some other American was heavyweight champ they’d outdraw Mayweather … but that’s a different tangent).

    If it were only about outcome, then the lighter weights in boxing should make much less than the higher weights. So yes, its more complicated than that. But if outcome and skill played no part, then any kid who puts on gloves for the first time should sell as well as Mayweather, because except for skill and ability there’s nothing to distinguish two beginners fighting and a fight for the world championships. And that applies to women as well – except for skill and ability, there’s no more reason to watch the woman’s world soccer championships than there is to watch the local school girls house league games.

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  105. Dean says:

    @wr: Yes, 30-year-old Billie Jean King beat 55-year-old Bobby Riggs. By the way, Riggs beat 30-year-old Margaret Court earlier that year.

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