Underpaid Athletes

Professional sports are a male dominated field. Not only are there more men in sports, but men earn a higher income than their female counterparts. Of the 2019 Forbes list of highest-paid athletes, Serena Williams was the only female on the list. In some cases, male athletes have earned up to three times more than a female athlete of the same skill level. There are many factors that influence wages, but the most prominent one is viewer interest.

Men’s sports receive significantly more media coverage, which can lead to a higher audience viewing. TV channels don’t focus on the skills of specific athletes, but rather what they think would appeal to viewers; and the majority of the time, it’s men’s sports. Because of this bias towards male demographics, the audience viewing figures are skewed. It seems as though people enjoy watching male sports over female sports when in reality women’s sports aren’t covered to the same caliber as men’s sports are.

In 2016, Novak Djokovic (the No.1 tennis player in the world, at the time), suggested that men should earn more money because men’s tennis matches have much more spectators. However, because more money is being directed towards men’s sports, the quality of sports broadcasting is higher in men’s sports, making it more enjoyable to watch.

This underrepresentation of women in sports on television and broadcasting networks can discourage young girls to play sports in school. According to the WSF Teen Sport Review (2018), 40% of teen girls don’t actively participate in a sport, in comparison to only 25% of boys. With less girls participating in sports, the already large gap in sports wages will slowly increase, perpetuating a cycle of inequality.

As the fight continues for equal opportunity and pay in the workplace, women in sports are being left behind. With the same, or greater, talent and skill as male athletes, female athletes should also be respected and treated as their male counterparts are.

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