Yesterday’s U.S. Open started with Cyndi Lauper flubbing the words to the National Anthem, then in the women’s finals Serena Williams was back to her old tricks and had an outburst at an umpire calling her a “hater” and “unattractive on the inside”. Way to show good sportsmanship, Serena, as usual. In the end, Australia’s Samantha Stosur won in two sets and took home a cool $1.8 million check–the same amount that the winner of the men’s finals will take home this afternoon. That launched a debate in our house about why women take home as much prize money as the men.
I’m all for equal rights, which is why I’m going to say this: There is nothing equal about the fact that female tennis players are only required to play the best out of three sets while men have to play the best out of five and yet, both genders receive the same size check in the end. Now this only applies to the majors (the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open) where Billie Jean King started the movement over a decade ago calling it “discriminatory” while her opponents called women “greedy” for wanting more money. Like I said, I’m all for equal pay–if there’s equal play.
First of all, women are more than capable of playing five sets if need be. They have proven that they have the stamina, endurance and strength to do so (have you seen the size of Serena’s arms?). King, however, made the argument against this saying it was the “entertainment value” and not the length of performance that counted. Entertainment? Do some of these women really think of themselves as entertainers? As one of my friends put it, that’s highly demeaning, which it is. These women are not there to put on a show (even though at times it can look like a bit of a fashion show out there). They are there to compete. They work harder than we can imagine to perfect their bodies and their sports, putting in countless grueling hours on and off the court to be the best powerhouse they can be. The fact that people find it entertaining to watch them is awesome, but they are not entertainers. They are athletes.
Secondly, how many other sports don’t require women to go the same distance as men? Marathons don’t have women running just 20 miles while men run the full 26.2. Triathlons don’t cut the distances of the swim, bike or run short for women. Professional soccer doesn’t require men to play for 90 minutes while women only have 60 minutes on the field. So why is tennis any different? As a matter of fact, these sports require equal play time, but rarely have equal pay. Go figure.
So let’s stop coddling women and let them prove that they are the same kick-ass athletes as men.
Let us know what you think. Should women be required to play the same amount as men in professional tennis?