Friday, February 23rd, 2007
Last July I wrote about the inequity of prize money between women and men who play at Wimbledon. The twist is that women play the best of three sets, while men play best of five. So women champions spend much less time on the courts:
Over the past five years (2001-2005), Wimbledon Men’s Champions - usually Roger Federer - have played 53% more sets (and 66% more games) en route to the championship than the women’s champions during the same period. If the averages hold up for 2006, the Gentlemen’s Champion will have earned $51,376 per set played while the Ladies Champion would take home $75,126 per set played at Wimbledon. There you have it: women earn 46% more than men at Wimbledon.
Yesterday, Wimbledon announced that it will pay equal prize money to men and women. While I support equal pay for men and women, I also support equal play. Women should play best of five sets just as men do. It makes for some of the most exciting, suspenseful tennis matches on the men’s side. And too many women’s tennis matches are lopsided 45 minute affairs - hardly ideal for the TV ratings. Introducing the stamina factor might even out the women’s field.
There is no physiological reason that female tennis players couldn’t pull through a grueling five hour match as some men do. Women run the same marathons that men run, play on the same sized soccer fields, and work the same 40 hour week that men work.
But what if the Wimbledon standard were applied to life? What if equal pay could be earned by someone even though it only required 66% less work? Or put another way, what if women paid the same amount but received 51% more in services or products? Courts would be smaller, hoops wider, bank lines shorter, sandwiches more delicious. The world would certainly be easier (I especially support the new Wimbledon holidays and the longer Wimbledon hot dogs), but would it be fair?