Like every other field, the discussion around women’s sports not being as popular as men’s sports sparks up every now and then. But the Big Media reluctance to push the perception is often ignored.
In the last decade, the conversation about feminism has moved on from demanding for more egalitarian opportunities to pointing out hypocrisy in how institutions patronize the subject but are reluctant to answer tough questions around it. In the professional sports arena, this diplomatic approach and reluctance to erase the bias is as profound as anywhere else. Why women athletes are paid less? The popularity gap doesn’t stem from fan preference for men’s sports, but the fact that Big Media doesn’t give the deserved due to women sports events and athletes.
Heads Up! Why Women Athletes Get Paid Less? The Blame Falls On Big Media.
- What causes women’s sporting events to lag behind?
- Rise in women athletes calling out the bias demanding equality
- How the perception that Big Media coverage (does not) builds hurts women sports
- How the lack of excitement in Media coverage forces the hands of sponsors
- The new trend – Can 2020 bring in a change?
There’s no hiding from the fact that women’s sports do not come close to the current standards of men’s sports in terms of popularity, pay, or facilities. The bigger question about income inequality or gender pay gap in sports is pretty much up there in the debate, but the bias in how businesses perceive their potential is seldom or never discussed.
Calling out the difference in perception
What makes men’s sports more popular sporting events than a similar women’s event? Why are women’s sports not at par with men’s sports in terms of potential, remuneration and facilities? Several cases are proof of women being discriminated against on the basis of gender. The field of sports hasn’t been aloof.
After winning the 2019 Women’s FIFA World Cup, US women’s soccer team sued the United States Soccer Federation over gender discrimination. The team demanded their pay and working conditions at par with their male counterparts. This was reminiscent of a 2017 incident. In 2017, the US women’s ice hockey team decided not to take part in the Ice Hockey Federation World Championship in Michigan in protest of unfair discrimination.
Why the blame largely falls on Big Media?
In the last decade, the interest of media houses in sports has pumped up with growing global TRP and subsequently bigger sponsorship deals for professional teams and athletes. However, a common perception has remained that if a women’s sport was worthy of receiving more coverage, it would surely would have. Big Media, on more than one occasion, has assured fans of this aspect of its integrity.
Women sports like tennis, athletics, gymnastics, football, cricket and basketball are thriving globally but with significantly lesser viewership. They then reason it to impact the interest of sponsors. According to a study by WomensSportsFoundation.com, about 40% of the total sports and physical activity participants are women. However, Big Media only devoted 6-8% of the global coverage to them. Surely, better media coverage of a sport can boost popularity and help in making it reach a larger audience. Tennis is one such sport that is on this path.
Resources raise excitement levels
Much of our perception of how interesting a sporting event is to the fans, boils down to the worth and value that Big Media sees in them. On the issue of lack of media coverage of major women sporting events, researches show that men’s sports seem to be more exciting due to the higher-quality perception generated by the media – from production values, to pre and post-event coverage, commentary and advertisements.
Consequently, businesses perceive the lack of audience as lesser interest in the game leading to lesser investments and sponsorships. That leads to empty stadiums and also helps Big Media houses justify poor coverage. It also forces the hands of sponsors. As a result, most elite women athletes get paid significantly less compared to male counterparts.
Can 2020 mend the gap?
The 2020 ICC Women’s T20 Cricket World Cup in Australia is currently in progress. There’s something unique about this edition of the Women’s T20 World Cup. Each match will get full media coverage. Moreover, Women’s T20 World Cup is the first major women’s cricketing event that will be televised.
The organizers expect the final, on International Women’s Day (8th March, 2020), to create a world record for the highest gathering at a women’s sporting event at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground. Initiatives such as these will boost the rise of women’s sports across the globe. Only then will the gap in how much men and women athletes get paid will lessen.