Roger Marolt: Have gender gap in paychecks, need couch potatoes
OK, ladies, your weekends are about to change. It’s time to find a comfy spot on the couch and stock the fridge with beer. If we are going to finally remedy this equal pay for play issue that’s been a flagrant foul on females since high school girls had to play basketball in long skirts and women in the office were hired based on looks first and typing skill second, this needs to happen now.
We need women’s paychecks to be as large as men’s. Let’s start with sports and go from there. The iron is hot, and I’m not talking about the kind used on wrinkled pants. I’m talking about the molten kind that will be forged into steely resolve for change.
On their way to becoming one of the greatest sports teams ever, the U.S. women’s World Cup soccer team kicked some butt, shot holes in the way things have always been and scored a huge opportunity to bring this issue to the forefront.
I’m saying “we” even though I am a man in this gender-driven issue. I hope you are OK with that. I see us on the same team of people here. I figure if we keep dividing and subdividing and multiplying the country by fractions based on black and white, men and women, Republicans and Democrats, Muslims and Christians, Yankee fans and everyone else, we’ll all wake up one day standing alone.
Let’s get back to suds and sofas, though. It’s where male athletes earn their pay. No, I don’t mean it like the San Diego Padres pay Manny Machado $30 million a year to get tanked in front of the tube. It’s just that the money tree for men’s sports sprouts from couch potatoes.
It’s the formula keeping men’s compensation in sports so high. Lots of men watch a lot of sports and drink a lot of beer while doing it. Brewers know this. So, brewers pay television networks a lot of money to advertise their product during games and the television people then pay sports teams a lot of money for permission to continue broadcasting their games and then the sports teams give a good chunk of that money to the players to keep them playing. This is the cycle that spins Silver Bullets into golden 10-year guaranteed, no-cut contracts, plus endorsements.
Did you know that about 68 million women watch NFL games regularly? Many own officially licensed team jerseys of their favorite players. Lots have a hat or T-shirt with NFL logos. Advertisers have noticed the feminine fans. This year, for the first time, Procter & Gamble advertised Olay skin care products during the Super Bowl. Zoe Kravitz was in a Michelob Ultra ad. Serena Williams plugged Bumble. Toni Harris, the first woman to earn a college football scholarship, did a spot for Toyota.
But, and this is the “but” that looks big in those genes, guess where all the ad and television revenue from female NFL fans ends up? It goes into the pockets of the male athletes they’re watching. By comparison, only around 15 million U.S viewers, women and men combined, viewed the U.S. Women’s World Cup championship game. It’s a dimes-to-dollars comparison and shows why women athletes make way less money.
You see where I’m going with this. It is going to take more than a couple dozen incredible female soccer players coming together to form a legendary team winning back-to-back World Cups with the entire planet watching to finally get equal pay for doing what they do more successfully than their male World Cup counterparts have done.
If only it was that easy. No, it’s going to take millions more fans to start rabidly supporting women’s athletics of all kinds. And, a good place to start would be with women fans. I’ll warn you now that this might involve face paint, matching up gauche team colors and watching games shirtless in the cold with a dozen friends in a row of bleachers, each with a letter from the team’s name painted on your chests. … OK, maybe we can skip the last one, but you really might have to dress up, act fanatical, go to more women’s games, and host tailgaters before WNBA matchups.
Women’s sports have momentum. According to statistics compiled by The Ohio State University, girls’ participation in high school sports has increased annually for the past 25 years. Total participation for girls reached 3.26 million in 2014 and has increased an average of 50% annually over the past five years. At high school and college levels, females make up 42% of all athletes.
The raw numbers prove the potential. Women love sports. The count is full and it’s a good time to throw the change-up. This battle for equal pay for women athletes only began on the athletic courts, fields, rinks and pools across this country. It will be won in the bleachers, sports bars and team apparel shops. You know what needs to be done. Now, just do it!
In Roger Marolt’s family the female athletes lead the males 3-2. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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