Picture this: You spend 90 minutes on a field, running around, kicking a ball, maybe scoring a goal. You’ve trained every day and spent many hours learning your craft and honing your talents.
However, when it comes to payday, those of you wearing bras will earn a fraction of what your male counterparts get for doing the same thing at the same venue for the same length of time, hoping for the same outcome.
Fair? I don’t think so.
Argue all you want that male sporting stars attract bigger crowds, that television broadcasts get huge audiences only when it’s men playing soccer, tennis or golf. I don’t care. Equal baseline pay for women and men playing professional sports should not even be an issue.
Just do it!
We expect our sports stars (of both genders) to do their best and win games. And so we should – our national pride is at stake.
But for goodness sake, let’s pay them properly and well so that they can go out there and do the job we expect them to do
And yet … we pay (and I use that term loosely) our Banyana players about R5 000 per game won. And winning they have been. Far more than their male counterparts, who – sit down for this – get R75 000-plus for winning a game.
Why is this happening?
A million years ago when I went to university, I was given a sports bursary. I held provincial and national colours and captained the first team at school.
One of my mates was a school first-team rugby player and also got a bursary – but it was four times more than mine for about a fourth of my achievements.
In the US, the national women’s soccer team had to threaten to go on strike for better (but not equal) pay.
The US women’s team has been the world’s most successful women’s soccer team in the past two decades, winning three Women’s World Cup titles and four of the six Olympic gold medals since women’s soccer joined the Games in 1996.
Since then, women in the US and Canada have struck better deals with their sporting federations.
But only after threatening to strike or go to court.
Why is this necessary?
Elsewhere on these pages, we have a chart of the top 10 sportswomen and men in the world and what they earn.
It’s a staggering discrepancy, but before you do a Neymar or froth at the mouth about unfair comparisons of apples and pears, ask yourself why you are upset at the comparison.
If the answer is “because women …”, then please tell your daughters that they are worth less than your sons. Tell your wives and girlfriends that you are worth more than them.
Then go back to the stone age.
It is time the most useless department in this country, the one that supposedly looks after the interests of women and children, did something about this.
In the US, they have a Title 9 provision that says each gender receives equal rights to educational programmes, activities and federal financial assistance.
Before Title IX of the Education Amendment was signed in 1972, there were roughly 310 000 women and girls playing sports in colleges and high schools throughout the nation.
Thanks to the law, there are now more than 3 million women and girls playing interscholastic sports today – a number that continues to grow each year.
The benefits due to the passage of that law, especially for interscholastic sports in general, have been immense.
We should enact the same thing here. It will go some way towards levelling the playing field in the most literal sense.
Also, advertisers should stop being lazy about their sponsorships. Drinking beer and using a cellphone are not men-only activities.
Women make up more than 50% of the consumer base, and it’s time to address that base with meaningful sponsorships.
In the meantime, let’s wish our national women’s soccer team the very best and thank a radio announcer for collecting money for them since their own federation does not seem to care at all.