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Quiet please - The ladies shall receive !

by Sachin Balagopalan on February 22, 2007 · Comments

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One of the stories that caught my attention today while surfing the web Internets was that snooty All England Tennis and Croquet Club has finally decided to treat women and men as equals at-least as far as prize money is concerned. The AETCC stages the Wimbledon tennis championship every summer and they have decided to cough up the dough to pay women equal prize money as men.

The argument put forth by the AETCC until now is that dollar for dollar (in this case pound for pound) the value provided from men’s tennis far exceeds that of women’s tennis hence the disparity in prize money. So these clowns are basically suggesting that men’s tennis draws bigger crowds and TV viewers than women’s tennis. I happen to agree with that notion to a certain extent but not because some snobbish uppity organization said so.

I think in general men tend to watch sports more than women and they usually like to watch “their own” perform. Given that premise if you have a men’s event and a women’s event in the same sport chances are the men’s event will generate the most revenue. Therefore purely from a bookkeeping point of view it is feasible to pay men more than the women.

However recently these sporting events have become family friendly thus increasing the popularity of the sport as a whole. The emergence of personalities like Tiger Woods, Andre Agassi and the Williams sisters (Serena and Venus) along with the marketing muscle available to these guys have made sports like tennis and golf not only popular but accessible to all demographic profiles not just white male men. So in a sport like tennis or golf where you have both male and female events the female event is just as relevant as the male event in terms of revenue and popularity.This is reflected in the number of endorsements female athletes command these days. Maria Sharapova for example is constantly humping (pardon the expression ;-) ) cannon digital cameras and not a day goes by where you don’t see her image on TV or a billboard or on the side of a bus. The sponsorship dollars for women’s tennis to the tune of $88 million with Sony Erricson reiterates the popularity of women’s tennis. So it is not surprising the AETCC had to acquiesce to the Womens Tennis Association (WTA) and the British public.

Personally I don’t care about tennis these days as much as I used to. To get me to watch tennis again would mean bringing back the likes of Ivan Lendl, Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, Michael Chang, Mats Wilander,  Pete Sampras, Andre Aggasi and yes even that loud mouth John McEnroe.


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