The issue of pay for sportsman is a thorny one which isn’t going away anytime soon. Why one player gets paid more than the other in team sports certainly rouses emotions. After all they all play almost the same number of hours on the field and they all almost contribute equally to the team’s win. But why are some players paid more than others , and some given special treatment by teams particularly at the higher level of sports such as premier league,NBA compared to lower leagues? I will try to shed light using examples like what the Grand Slam tournament organizers did in giving equal prize money to both male and women tennis players and why it may not have been everyone’s cup of tea.
Well up until 1973, the US Open tennis tournament had a different prize money for women and men. That was when Billie Jean King had enough and threatened to boycott the tournament which forced the organizers to concede. This is a good thing no doubt. But certain arguments have surfaced recently which deserve to be heard. One of which is one brought forth by none other than Novak Djokovic the world number one in 2016. He argued that people come to watch men play so paying equally across may not be in interest of fairness. I so happen to disagree with Novak as the census done on attendance at WTA tournaments show that there has been ,well not really the same numbers, but it has been on the up and up.The level of sponsorship in the women’s game is higher according to the WTA which means the prize money should automatically increase as well. What I might accept is that women play best of 3 sets at grams slam tournaments as opposed to best of 5 sets which means more endurance is needed to win matches, also the level of intensity in men’s matches is higher. Try chasing after a serve in the 140 km per hour range for 5 sets. So what of team sports such as soccer?
Soccer is now big business, so being a big business clubs want to stay afloat (not be bankrupt). As such there are employees that bring in more money than other because of their skill set and brand. For example Ronaldo’s brand brought more shirt sales in a week of his return to United than new player in history , so naturally he commands a higher wage than any at United. Some players when negotiating pay say they are the ones that fans pay to see, which I tend to disagree. A case in point is when a player leaves a club does their attendance diminish? Barcelona’s attendance never went down when Messi left, check the stats even with the pandemic limiting attendances. So the player wage ultimately depends on the perceived value of the player has to the team.So is it fair?Yes and No.Soccer is a team sport so every player contributed to the success on the pitch but the world is more complex than that. Success is now measured not only by the result on the pitch but in terms of financial statement results as well.