Fans of the Politics of Women’s Sports (but Not Women’s Sports Fans)

 

In the last few weeks I have seen a number of articles and statements about pay disparity between men and women soccer players. (Useful numbers here.) It seems rather obvious from the noise that a number of those women who are happy to recycle cherry-picked numbers about salaries could not name four starters on the US Team, have never bought a ticket to a soccer game and never watched a game on TV until very recently, if at all. The financial truth is that women do not support women’s sports nor do they make much of an effort persuade men to become interested. 

Among other sports, I do watch soccer. I watch the Premier League broadcasts on weekends. I follow DC United in the MLS and I actually buy tickets to games. And I follow the US national teams. ( I have always been concerned about our women’s team being too confident of their athleticism so that they can often be vulnerable to counterattack by patient, savvy European teams; and I am appalled at the state of the US men’s team). I noticed that even in the elimination rounds of the Women’s World Cup there were many empty seats in the stands.

An educated lady of my acquaintance was part of a casual group conversation in which two men brought up the Washington Nationals and pretended to know the game as many men tend to do. She interrupted the bloviation to ask if anybody was going to watch the World Cup game against England. I said I planned to do so and asked if she was worried about the scoring punch of England’s forwards given the USA’s tendency to press forward do much. She then confessed that she had not yet watched a game. Typical. She loves the generic issue of equality but not the sport. And that is the real issue.

The disparity in income and market value between men and women’s soccer is a difference of magnitudes. The roster of Brazil’s men’s team (most of whom play in the top tier of European leagues) has a collective market value of over $1 billion–and that is not even the highest ranked team. Most of the names on that roster each have contract value higher than the sum of the US women’s team. [Note: US Men’s team has a net contract value of only $144 million and half of that is Christian Pulisic.]

When sports fans debate the fairness of individual player salaries they generally do so (a) with a knowledge of the sport and of (b) the player’s performance and (c) what other teams are doing, i.e., the market. Extraneous political considerations are not included. And that is how it should be.

 

 

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There are 29 comments.

  1. PHCheese Member

    I think that what the women want is revenue sharing. I have not heard it put that way but I believe that’s the issue. Attendance be damned. Remember that all of the team went to a college where the soccer program was most likely under written by the football team. My daughter played at a big time program and the attendance fees probably didn’t pay the bus driver let alone the rest of the expenses. Personally although there is a disparity between the men’s and women’s pay both teams players should extremely happy to get paid for playing a game. It’s a tempest in a tea cup, just ask Alex Morgan.

    • #1
    • July 8, 2019, at 10:59 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  2. Percival Thatcher

    The womens’ team should play the mens’ team for paychecks.

    • #2
    • July 8, 2019, at 11:00 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  3. Dr. Bastiat Member

    Someone asked me once why LeBron James, a basketball player, makes more money than me, a doctor. I responded that there are not millions of people out there eager to pay money to watch me practice medicine.

    Pretty simple.

    Women’s sports generate A LOT less revenue than men’s sports. If their pay was similar, there would be something very wrong.

    • #3
    • July 8, 2019, at 11:20 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Since I know next to nothing about any version of soccer, I’ll keep my thoughts to myself, thank you very much.

    • #4
    • July 8, 2019, at 11:24 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  5. Guruforhire Member

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Someone asked me once why LeBron James, a basketball player, makes more money than me, a doctor. I responded that there are not millions of people out there eager to pay money to watch me practice medicine.

    Pretty simple.

    Women’s sports generate A LOT less revenue than men’s sports. If their pay was similar, there would be something very wrong.

    I was doing some work somewhere that I don’t recall, and I thought about why Beyonce has all the monies, and I mean all the monies versus this very nice lady making my subway sammich.

    When you make 10 million people’s day 10 cents better you get a million dollars. When you make 100 people’s day 5 dollars better you get $500.

    • #5
    • July 8, 2019, at 11:29 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  6. Bereket Kelile Member

    Can we even say that male and female soccer players are doing equal work? When you look at the work product from lawyer, doctors, writers, and software engineers you can’t tell if it came from a man or a woman. Indeed, there’s nothing about the work that is essentially tied to gender. That’s clearly not the case when it comes to sports. I think this is especially noticeable in basketball, where all but one woman has ever dunked a basketball. Their work is different because their abilities are different, due to the fact of biology. They are providing the same entertainment experience, which is what you pay for with sports.

    • #6
    • July 8, 2019, at 11:33 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  7. DonG Coolidge

    PHCheese (View Comment):
    I think that what the women want is revenue sharing. I have not heard it put that way but I believe that’s the issue. Attendance be damned.

    I heard that the US women’s team is paid about 12% of league revenue and the men are paid about 6% of revenue. The root of the problem is that soccer is a huge sport outside of the US for men and inside the US for women. That gives the US women’s team a perspective that they are a bigger deal than they really are. They will need to grow the TV market to earn more dollars, but asking more doesn’t hurt either. I wonder who makes more on endorsements? I did see this: “Alex Morgan is likely the USWNT player with the highest earning potential. Morgan is estimated to earn $1 million annually, per Money.com. The majority of Morgan’s earnings likely comes from endorsements off the soccer field.” Top female tennis players earn $10M+/year for endorsements.

    • #7
    • July 8, 2019, at 11:35 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. SpiritO'78 Member

    The Women’s World Cup only comes around every 4 years anyway. How many people are actually watching all those friendlies in the off years? There just isn’t enough interest from the public to make it pay out.

    • #8
    • July 8, 2019, at 12:00 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  9. Old Bathos Member
    Old Bathos Post author

    DonG (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):
    I think that what the women want is revenue sharing. I have not heard it put that way but I believe that’s the issue. Attendance be damned.

    I heard that the US women’s team is paid about 12% of league revenue and the men are paid about 6% of revenue. The root of the problem is that soccer is a huge sport outside of the US for men and inside the US for women. That gives the US women’s team a perspective that they are a bigger deal than they really are. They will need to grow the TV market to earn more dollars, but asking more doesn’t hurt either. I wonder who makes more on endorsements? I did see this: “Alex Morgan is likely the USWNT player with the highest earning potential. Morgan is estimated to earn $1 million annually, per Money.com. The majority of Morgan’s earnings likely comes from endorsements off the soccer field.” Top female tennis players earn $10M+/year for endorsements.

    Endorsements have a market. There may be a PC thumb on the scale (e.g., Nike) but it is generally market driven. Player salaries for pro teams are also market-driven. Salaries for national teams can be lower because of the value of the prestige and potential global name recognition and the adverse effect of public animus against stars withholding their talents from the national squad for monetary reasons. 

    Women’s sports generally want full value when the market provides but subsidies when it does not (see, for example the WNBA). Fiscal reality (reluctantly) imposes a ceiling and PC whining provides a higher floor.

    • #9
    • July 8, 2019, at 12:06 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. OldPhil Coolidge

    “Last year, the men’s World Cup in Russia generated more than $6 billion in revenue; the participating teams shared about $400 million. That is less than 7 percent of overall revenue. Meanwhile, the 2019 Women’s World Cup made somewhere in the region of $131 million, doling out $30 million, well more than 20 percent of collected revenue, to the participating teams. It seems a pay gap does exist, after all.”

    https://thefederalist.com/2019/07/08/yes-soccer-pay-gap-women-make-men/

    • #10
    • July 8, 2019, at 12:09 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  11. Old Bathos Member
    Old Bathos Post author

    Bereket Kelile (View Comment):

    Can we even say that male and female soccer players are doing equal work? . . . They are providing the same entertainment experience, which is what you pay for with sports.

    Last sentence does not seem to follow. Women’s college softball can be interesting and the talent admirable. NCAA women’s basketball is almost unwatchable. I admit to enjoying women’s beach volleyball but largely for prurient rather than sportsfan interest.

    • #11
    • July 8, 2019, at 12:11 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  12. Vance Richards Member

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Someone asked me once why LeBron James, a basketball player, makes more money than me, a doctor. I responded that there are not millions of people out there eager to pay money to watch me practice medicine.

    Pretty simple.

    Women’s sports generate A LOT less revenue than men’s sports. If their pay was similar, there would be something very wrong.

    Yeah, I’m sure you’re really good at what you do but I don’t want to see that

    “Hey I got two tickets, front row, to Mr. Rosenberg’s prostate exam . . .”

    • #12
    • July 8, 2019, at 1:09 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  13. OldPhil Coolidge

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Someone asked me once why LeBron James, a basketball player, makes more money than me, a doctor. I responded that there are not millions of people out there eager to pay money to watch me practice medicine.

    Pretty simple.

    Women’s sports generate A LOT less revenue than men’s sports. If their pay was similar, there would be something very wrong.

    Yeah, I’m sure you’re really good at what you do but I don’t want to see that

    “Hey I got two tickets, front row, to Mr. Rosenberg’s prostate exam . . .”

    Not to get too far off topic, but there’s an infomercial that keeps popping up on cable TV lately, and every time I stumble across it I have to cringe and hit the channel up/down button ASAP. It’s titled “Larry King Prostate.”

    • #13
    • July 8, 2019, at 2:44 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. Dan N Inactive

    I was thrilled that the USWNT won the World Cup for a 4th time. That said, the quality of a lot of the play was painful to watch. The US excels in fitness & athleticism but is lacking in technical ability. I hope to see continued progress in the quality of play so that viewership increases. COYS

    • #14
    • July 8, 2019, at 9:26 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. dnewlander Member

    Maybe they should not lose to an Under-15 boys team. Then they might have a point. Be glad you’re getting paid and are on TV.

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-4389760/USA-women-s-team-suffer-5-2-loss-FC-Dallas-U-15-boys.html

    • #15
    • July 9, 2019, at 12:05 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  16. Doug Watt Member

    Soccer is becoming much more organized in the US, especially in cities that have MLS teams. MLS teams are organizing youth teams that include kids that are as young as six years old. They are looking for kids that as they get older start developing some skills that show some professional potential. Some of these kids bypass high school soccer and play club level soccer on traveling teams – under 16, under 18, and under 21 clubs.

    The most successful college programs will only recruit players that have been associated with the Olympic development program, although that will change as the MLS youth programs grow.

    My grandson started playing with the Portland Timbers program, and is now playing for FC Portland, a club founded by Clive Charles. He’s 8 years old.

    • #16
    • July 9, 2019, at 6:02 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  17. Nohaaj Coolidge

    DonG (View Comment):
    That gives the US women’s team a perspective that they are a bigger deal than they really are.

    Yes, the self-aggrandized girls, who appear to also be inflicted with TDS (at least the loudest of them) do not understand the economics of the marketplace. They are self declared victims because of their gender, and as victims, appear more noble in their demands for socialist equality.

    • #17
    • July 9, 2019, at 7:08 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  18. Old Bathos Member
    Old Bathos Post author

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Soccer is becoming much more organized in the US, especially in cities that have MLS teams. MLS teams are organizing youth teams that include kids that are as young as six years old. They are looking for kids that as they get older start developing some skills that show some professional potential. Some of these kids bypass high school soccer and play club level soccer on traveling teams – under 16, under 18, and under 21 clubs.

    The most successful college programs will only recruit players that have been associated with the Olympic development program, although that will change as the MLS youth programs grow.

    My grandson started playing with the Portland Timbers program, and is now playing for FC Portland, a club founded by Clive Charles. He’s 8 years old.

    All true but I thought we would be farther along by now. The current US women’s team is mostly 30-year olds and there is a big dropoff in talent to the next gen. The US is doing worse each year in the women’s youth level competitions and we are not yet getting better as fast as I expected on the men’s side. 

    I think that the sport of soccer does not get first choice among the athletically gifted which seems odd in that it does not inordinately favor larger-sized players to the extent that basketball, football and baseball do so there should be a significant pool of available talent.

    • #18
    • July 9, 2019, at 8:19 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  19. Dr. Bastiat Member

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    I think that the sport of soccer does not get first choice among the athletically gifted which seems odd in that it does not inordinately favor larger-sized players to the extent that basketball, football and baseball do so there should be a significant pool of available talent.

    Good point. In America, if you’re a gifted athlete, you’re not likely to choose soccer as your primary sport (although this is probably less true now than it once was).

    • #19
    • July 9, 2019, at 8:35 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  20. PHCheese Member

    Just a quick reminder, none of these woman played for Hillsdale College. Megan Rapinoe went to Portland.

    • #20
    • July 9, 2019, at 8:56 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  21. EJHill Podcaster

    The basic truth about sports: Too few of us have a personal interest in any of it. We don’t own the teams or have relationships, familial or otherwise, with the players. Therefore we root for the laundry.

    The US Women make it difficult for us to do that. The name on the back of the jersey always has to take 2nd place to the name on the front. By injecting their politics into the equation they are self-limiting their commercial appeal. If they want to be equal to the men in all regards they would be best served by emulating those who wear the primary US uniform: Respect the flag and the chain of command, keep your politics to yourself, shut up and salute. 

     

    • #21
    • July 9, 2019, at 11:01 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  22. Aaron Parmelee Member

    People look at this like it is a sport. Like the gentlemen Olympians of old in honorable competition.

    That is wrong. These are TV shows. Popular TV shows attract more viewers and make more money. Their stars make more money. I don’t recall seeing women’s soccer, or any soccer, for that matter, on TV outside of the World Cup. And I work in a bar, where we frequently watch TV shows like “The Chicago Cubs vs The St Louis Cardinals” or “The Green Bay Packers vs The Detroit Lions”.

    • #22
    • July 9, 2019, at 11:02 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  23. Vance Richards Member

    I am not a soccer fan at all so the only thing they have to get me interested would be national pride. So when the star player decides to take a knee during the national anthem . . . ?

    Normally with something like the World Cup I would say, “I couldn’t care less”, well they somehow made me care even less.

    • #23
    • July 9, 2019, at 11:11 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  24. RS711 Listener

    PHCheese (View Comment):
    My daughter played at a big time program and the attendance fees probably didn’t pay the bus driver let alone the rest of the expenses.

    I did men’s cross country and track and we were underwritten by football and basketball as well.

    • #24
    • July 9, 2019, at 12:38 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  25. KentForrester Coolidge

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Since I know next to nothing about any version of soccer, I’ll keep my thoughts to myself, thank you very much.

    When has that every stopped you before, Susan?

    Kidding! Just kidding! Really, Susan, just kidding! Please don’t hurt me. 

    • #25
    • July 9, 2019, at 1:08 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  26. Lois Lane Coolidge

    I think all of these women are hurting other women with their incessant whining, and I’m a woman. So I guess in my case, both the sport *and* the politics create extreme lack of interest.

    Maybe Serena Williams would have a case in the magical world of tennis if she isn’t making the same bank as some dude at Wimbledon, but since I can’t name an American man playing tennis at the moment, I suspect Serena is pulling in way more dough than anyone else on this side of the pond who chases a little green ball around the court,whatever their naughty bits look like.

    And even in that case—a sport where you do have big followers for female athletes so bigger purses and giant endorsement cash more evenly split—the games are different between genders. It’s not really comparing apples and apples.

    I haven’t checked the numbers, so maybe I’m living in false consciousness, but… yeah. I feel pretty good when thinking after you added up all the money earned in 2018, Serena would be holding her own per Team Williams.

    • #26
    • July 9, 2019, at 2:18 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  27. dnewlander Member

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    I think all of these women are hurting other women with their incessant whining, and I’m a woman. So I guess in my case, both the sport *and* the politics create extreme lack of interest.

    Maybe Serena Williams would have a case in the magical world of tennis if she isn’t making the same bank as some dude at Wimbledon, but since I can’t name an American man playing tennis at the moment, I suspect Serena is pulling in way more dough than anyone else on this side of the pond who chases a little green ball around the court,whatever their naughty bits look like.

    And even in that case—a sport where you do have big followers for female athletes so bigger purses and giant endorsement cash more evenly split—the games are different between genders. It’s not really comparing apples and apples.

    I haven’t checked the numbers, so maybe I’m living in false consciousness, but… yeah. I feel pretty good when thinking after you added up all the money earned in 2018, Serena would be holding her own per Team Williams.

    Serena is the fifth-highest paid tennis player in the world this year according to Forbes.

    • #27
    • July 9, 2019, at 4:21 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. Lois Lane Coolidge

    dnewlander (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    I think all of these women are hurting other women with their incessant whining, and I’m a woman. So I guess in my case, both the sport *and* the politics create extreme lack of interest.

    Maybe Serena Williams would have a case in the magical world of tennis if she isn’t making the same bank as some dude at Wimbledon, but since I can’t name an American man playing tennis at the moment, I suspect Serena is pulling in way more dough than anyone else on this side of the pond who chases a little green ball around the court,whatever their naughty bits look like.

    And even in that case—a sport where you do have big followers for female athletes so bigger purses and giant endorsement cash more evenly split—the games are different between genders. It’s not really comparing apples and apples.

    I haven’t checked the numbers, so maybe I’m living in false consciousness, but… yeah. I feel pretty good when thinking after you added up all the money earned in 2018, Serena would be holding her own per Team Williams.

    Serena is the fifth-highest paid tennis player in the world this year according to Forbes.

    And Roger Federer isn’t on top because he’s a man. It’s because he’s Swiss, and we know the Swiss have lots of bank!!!!!! :)

    • #28
    • July 9, 2019, at 4:26 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  29. CuriousKevmo Member

    If I’m not careful I can quickly find myself immersed in a sport when it’s being played by the best in the world – NFL, NBA, Olympics, etc. While I rarely watch Soccer, I will get caught up in the world cup. Heck, I’ve even been hooked on Cricket during the Ashes but I tried watching the Women’s World Cup and found it unwatchable. I reckon that is why they aren’t paid as much.

    • #29
    • July 9, 2019, at 5:04 PM PDT
    • 2 likes