It seemed as though the reason was intuitively obvious, but now Mrs. Jones
is preaching on the television, asking why women aren't paid as much as men are, and is outraged at this wrongful disparity. "Are they playin' any less hard than the fellas?" she asks.
Here is the reason why women don't get paid as much as men do in professional sports: They're not as good. Just as minor league players don't get paid as much as their major league counterparts, women don't get paid as much as men because they're not as good. Does this mean that they can't ever or won't ever be as good? No. It just mean that in the current state of professional sports, women are not on an equal talent level with men.
There are those that would point to the "Battle Of The Sexes" as proof that women are on equal footing with men talentwise. For those who don't know, this famed tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King resulted in a King victory, and is often cited as a key victory for the women's movement. What is often ignored is the fact that Bobby Riggs was old enough to be King's father, and hadn't won a major tournament in over thirty years.
Mrs. Jones claims, "They deserve more." Do they? First, you'd have to argue that male athletes deserve what they're being paid, and that's a tough argument to win. Suppose it's true, though. Then why are they being paid tens of millions of dollars, while the top women make only hundreds of thousands? The answer is simple economics.
Consider that the average NBA team draws around 10,000 fans per game over 41 home games, usually coupled with a lucrative local television contract as well as the league contract with NBC and TNT. Compare that with the WNBA, which averages about the same number fans per game over just 16 home games, with lower ticket prices, coupled with almost non-existent television revenue. Now explain why they should be paid the same as men. You can't. At least not without sounding foolish.
Now before anyone jumps on me for being sexist, let me explain that this is in NO WAY a male/female issue, despite what some people would like you to believe. Salaries in sports are based not on sex, but on performance. The reason why Shaquille O'Neal makes more than the entire roster of the Phoenix Mercury is not because he's a man and they're women, it's because more people are willing to pay more money to see Shaquille O'Neal than the entire roster of the Phoenix Mercury. It's also the reason why he makes more money than the Minnesota Twins, a team comprised of twenty-five men.
Man, woman, black, white, if you're not as good, you don't get as much money. So give it up, Mrs. Jones.
McSey: Women play at the same golf courses as men, hit from a closer tee, and still post higher scores.
Oh dear. For anyone to suggest that either of the Williams sisters could beat a top-ranked men's player is just phenomenally misguided. While ranked in the Top 10 in 1998, Venus played Karsten Braasch, then ranked 100th on the ATP. She lost 6-2. To Karsten Braasch. Ever heard of Karsten Braasch? That's what I thought. Now you think that she's going to beat Lleyton Hewitt? Please.
This kind of thinking is akin to when that guy at the bar says that the NCAA national champs could beat the worst team in the NFL. It's something that didn't have a lot of thought put into it.
At the same time, I'd like to point out that women's tennis is a bit of an anomaly. The men are clearly better at the sport, but their craft is ugly. Have you watched the men's game lately? Here's how it goes: Ace, double fault, ace, service winner, double fault, ace. Next game. The women's game is slower, but it's better tennis, BECAUSE THE SERVE ACTUALLY GETS RETURNED. The way the women play now is the way Jimmy Connors played in the late 80's. And it's fun to watch. Add to that the apparent sex appeal on the women's side, and I'm wondering why they don't get paid as much if not more.
In general, though, talent drives attendance, which in turn drives economics.