It seemed as though the reason was intuitively obvious, but now Mrs. Jones from Nike 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.

I agree so much I cooled this, but...

Certain sports (oddly enough those where brute force is not at a premium) could mix men and women and not see a drop in the level of competition. Are you telling me female professional bowlers aren't as good as males (hell are you telling me some of them aren't male? sorry ;)? How about golfers?

Granted a good high school boys team could at this point beat a WNBA team, but, to take on the competition quality argument, why don't women's tennis players make what the men make? The women play a far better brand of tennis than the overpowered serve and volley crap that the men play. It's not just me either. Look at the TV ratings. Women draw as well to better than men. I'm not saying Martina Hingis could beat Andre Agassi. I'm simply saying I'd rather watch Hingis beat Anna Kournikova than watch Agassi beat Patrick Rafter.

Actually I'd rather watch Brandi Chastain strip, but that's another story.

Anyhoo, some sports should pay equally. Gymnastics and figure skating should pay women more.

It doesn't have anything to do with talent, at least not directly. It is 100% pure from concentrate economics. It's the same reason female models are paid more than male models. People pay money, attention (TV), and buy products that support the female model market, and not as many do to support the male model market.

If you want to see female athletes paid more, go to their games, buy t-shirts, et cetera.

Personally, I'd like to see all athletes paid less, they don't deserve what they get.

mcSey: You'll have a hard time convincing me that golf, bowling, gymnastics, and figure skating are actually sports. They're games.

In the two years since the creation of Orange Julius’ original node, things have changed dramatically for women’s sports.… except their relative wages. A damn shame considering that some women’s sports have recently surpassed men in quality as well as overtaking the men in popularity.

I agree with the argument that the economics do not exist to allow equal pay for female athletes. More people attend Laker games to see Shaquille O’Neal use his ass as a battering ram than they do Sparks games to see Lisa Leslie perform the first slam dunk in WNBA history (a short history, true, but did you think a woman could dunk a basketball?) Tickets are also cheaper which results in lower revenue which means less money to go around. Even so, player salaries are only 12% of the league's total revenue. Compare that to the expected 55-65% of total revenue the men will earn in the 2002-2003 season.

And ask yourself this… until the WNBA’s formation, where could you see women’s basketball in America? College, sure. But only if you went to the games. Until the 2001 Women’s Final Four, the tournament had never been televised in its entirety. Twenty years after the tournament began! Never mind that it took the NCAA nearly a decade after Title IX to even grant the women a national tournament.

And is quality really the issue? I’ve been watching a lot of tennis lately, and I’d bet good money that either of the Williams sisters could beat the men's top ranked Lleyton Hewitt. Yet the men’s Wimbledon Champion was paid £39,000 more than the women’s. But that’s just my opinion. Let’s look at some facts. In 1999, HBO increased their coverage of women’s matches to 60% of total airtime. Their ratings increased 19%. In Europe, the women ratings were twice that of the men. Proving that if you give the women some exposure, people will tune in.

In the end, physical battle of the sexes is a non-issue. You’re not paying to see the men compete against the women. You’re paying to see women compete against other women, and the competition is just as fierce and entertaining as anything the men throw out there.

Sure, the revenue is not there to pay male and female athletes equally. But it will and should be. WNBA attendance has steadily increased. As has the WUSA’s. The Little League Softball World Series has even been broadcast on ESPN2. All signs point towards women gaining an significant share of the sport’s market. All they need is a chance to succeed. Put more games on television, offer more merchandise in the stores, spread the word, sit back, and enjoy. Encourage your daughters to play baseball, basketball, soccer, cricket, etc… Teach them how to throw a baseball, football, frisbee, etc… Save some money on a movie and take that special girl to see the WNBA. You may be surprised to find that they're playing the same game the men play... basketball.

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