Every year Forbes released the top 100 highest-paid athletes in the world. It’s always interesting where the big name athletes end up and how much each athlete is making. This is the first year that not a single women made their list. Serena Williams is always a dead ringer to be on the list, but because she gave birth and you know took care of her baby, she dropped out of the top 100.
The highest paid athlete on the list was Floyd Mayweather. He made a whopping $285 million this past year. Only $10 million came from endorsements, while the rest he made solely from his winnings. The 100 slot on the list was filled by basketball player Nicolas Batum with $22.9 million. The incomes reported were earned between June 1, 2017 and June 1, 2018.
In total, the 100 male athletes made an accumulative $3.8 billion. The Daily Dot crunched the numbers and found that only 23% of these earnings come from endorsements while the other 77% are from salary.
This highlights the sexism in the sports industry. Even if you’re not a sports fan, you should be concerned that females are being paid drastically less than their male counterparts.
The disparity between women and men in sports is nothing new. In 2016 Breanna Stewart won the ESPY for best female athlete. In her speech, she pointed out the media disparity between the media coverage she received as a college athlete and professional female athlete. “I received an enormous amount of media attention, and now in the WNBA, I’m trying to understand why we as professional athletes don’t receive anywhere near the fame,” Stewart said. “This has to change. And I know that everyone in this room loves and supports women and girls in sports and wants to be a part of this change, right?”
Since her speech not much as change. Columnist for Huffington Post, Jessica Luther, regularly writes about the disparity of media coverage between female and male athletes. “In truth, it would seem people don’t watch women’s basketball because they have sexist ideas about who counts as basketball players and what version of the game is legitimate,” Luter wrote.
She argues that people don’t watch a lot of women’s sports because of the lack of coverage. People have to actively seek out female sports as opposed to male sports. During a finals NBA game, even if you don’t like sports, there is a high chance you’ll stumble upon an NBA related tweet on your timeline. The same can’t be said about female sports. You have to be following the right people and actively searching for the fan base.
Luther writes, “If you love sports but you’ve limited yourself to just men’s sports for whatever reason, you’re missing out on a lot.”
Ringer staff writer and New York Times bestselling author, Shea Serrano has encouraged his loyal 239,000 followers to invest in a $17 WNBA league pass. His predominately NBA loving followers have followed suit and shelled out less than $20 to watch the WNBA all season long. This sort of exposure from a huge NBA loving voice is necessary to push female sports into the much-deserved limelight.
A well-known pay disparity is between the female U.S. soccer team and the U.S. male soccer team. In March 2017 five of the U.S. female soccer team star players filed a wage discrimination complaint against the U.S. Soccer Federation. They were being paid 40% less than the men but were playing more and winning more. The women have a base salary of $72,000 then bonuses based on wins. The men’s base pay is varied and based on playing time and performance. They get bonuses for winning, tieing and losing.
The way the pay structure was set up the men would make more money than the women when they lost and the women won. It doesn’t matter where the women’s team was ranked they would only make $1,350 per win. While the men’s pay went up based on where they ranked. If they weren’t ranked nationally and lost they would make $5,000. The women’s team could be number one and win and still make less money than an unranked losing male team.
The U.S. Soccer Federation argued that men’s games get more sponsorships and therefore make more money. So it all goes back to giving female sports the same media platform as men.
In April 2017 the U.S. female team and the federation reached a deal. The New York Times reported that there will be a 30% increase in base pay and higher bonuses for winning. The team will also have better travel accommodations. They will not have the same pay structure as men, but their payout will most likely double based on their new pay structure.
There still needs to be more work done and it seems like an uphill battle.