I respect and enjoy women’s sports – particularly women’s basketball and women’s soccer.
Still in the last week, two storylines involving those sports have made me feel chauvinistic because I don’t support the premise of them.
Last Friday, five members of the United States Women’s National Team filed a wage discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
They say it is unfair that the USSF pays them about a quarter less than what they pay the men when they represent the United States in international competition.
On Tuesday in the aftermath of the University of Connecticut smashing Syracuse to win the NCAA Women’s Tournament, one angle was that Huskies coach Geno Auriemma, by winning his 11th title, had passed UCLA legendary men’s coach John Wooden for the most championships in Division I basketball.
Both stories are sleight-of-hands being used to artificially enhance the stature of women’s sports.
Ironically, the first points out discrimination compared to men’s sports while the second boasts equality when compared to men’s sports.
Neither is correct because both assume that women and men that play sports with the same name actually play the same sport.
They do not.
In almost every way, from the style of play to officiating to the way they are regarded by fans and the general public, women’s and men’s sports are different games even when they have the same names.
No one who watched both the NCAA men’s and women’s championship games can honestly say they watched the same sport.
Auriemma did not pass Wooden because he does not coach the same sport. His watershed was when he passed Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summit.
Wooden’s closest pursuer is Duke men’s coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has five national titles.
As far as the suit by the women’s national team soccer players, I have no issue with the concept of equal pay for equal work.
That does not apply in this case.
Compensation in professional sports is generally based on how much revenue a player can generate in relation to other players.
LeBron James is infinitely more valuable to a team as a revenue builder than Ish Smith – hence the huge disparity in their salaries.
The women’s soccer players pulled a nice shell game by cherry picking 2015 as a way to say they generated more revenue for the USSF than the men’s team.
It is true that the women generated $20 million more than the men in 2015 -- but 2015 was a FIFA World Cup year for the women.
During the men’s 2014 FIFA World Cup, it’s been reported that the USA men’s team brought in around 50 times that number in revenue.
Companies paid more than $600 million for the 451 thirty-second television commercials at the 2014 World Cup. The 2015 Women’s Cup drew about $40 million.
The biggest thing is that FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, gives the women’s game little respect.
The USA women’s team got $2 million for winning the 2015 Women’s World Cup while the men got $9 million for getting knocked out in the round of 16 in the 2014 World Cup because FIFA awarded the bonuses.
The EEOC can’t tell an international business how to give out its prize money.
That disparity in pay is a function of the business market and not sex discrimination.
WNBA players don’t make the same as NBA players because the league does not make the same amount of money.
Major League Soccer players work as hard at being professional athletes as NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB players but they don’t get paid as well as them because their game does not generate the money the other leagues do.
They are all male athletes but some sports are more popular than others and the salaries reflect that.
I appreciate, enjoy and support women’s sports, but I do so with the understanding that they are different games than the one’s men play – even if the name is the same.