Written by Jen Offord


Less money, Moore problems

This week in the world of sports, chat about equal pay for women tennis players has been far from sporting. Jen Offord very much wishes these people would pull their head out of their arses.

tennis-63733_1920Certain comments made earlier this week by Raymond Moore, CEO of the Indian Wells tennis tournament, caused something of a furore in the sports world.

Moore forgot all of his media training and rule 101 of promotion when he admitted (I’m paraphrasing) he reckoned women’s tennis was a bit shit, and as such female tennis players should be grateful to their male counterparts for “carrying” the sport. Oh Raymond, you silly sausage.

In the interests of fairness, it’s worth pointing out Moore is not the only person to have made some daft comments on the subject this week. In fact, World Number One, Novak Djokovic, actually wants to see the global gender pay gap extended to tennis. After all, he’s attracting a bigger audience right? Djokovic’s argument rests on the fact that the men’s game attracts a bigger audience and has opened the door to the age-old debate about the men’s game playing more sets: the best of five compared to the paltry best of three in the women’s game.

“I’d be interested to know what it is Moore finds so tedious about the women’s game, compared to the men’s game of serving ace after ace after ace.”

Unlike Moore, who resigned shortly after his comments were made public, Djokovic gets to keep his job. Still at least he had the good grace to acknowledge all that “stuff” that women players had to go through that he didn’t – you know, “hormones” and that. Because men don’t have hormones…

The difference, I suppose, is that Raymond Moore is a misogynist; I can’t think of a better description for a guy who wants women to “get down on their knees” and thank God that men have been around to bail their sorry weak asses out. Djokovic just has a fundamental lack of understanding of his privilege as a male athlete and participant in the free market economy – and of biology, apparently.

Annoyingly, a staggering number of members of the public also feel the same as Nov’, according to a particularly depressing Jeremy Vine radio show I was listening to the other day. First women got the vote and then almost 90 years later, in 2007, had the brass fucking neck to ask for equal prize money at Wimbledon. And women don’t even play the same number of sets! Hasn’t Djokovic got a point? You’re always wanging on about equality – YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS!

It’s not going to surprise you to learn that I disagree. First of all, let’s address biology. Yes, I know men are bigger and stronger and all that, but is there any real reason women couldn’t play best of five sets, or is this some old-school “you’re just too flimsy!” nonsense? Remember, women weren’t allowed to compete in marathons until the 80s – even I’ve crawled my way around a marathon and I am not an elite athlete.

Secondly, female players don’t work any less hard than their male counterparts – they train the same amount (so incur the same costs). Thirdly, tennis players don’t earn money on the basis of who is on court for longer. A more successful tennis player would, in theory, get the job done in three (or two, in our puny cases) sets rather than four or five.

Serena Williams, boring? Hardly.

Serena Williams, boring? Hardly.

Fourthly, guess what Nov’ – and this is the point about privilege – you guys do earn more than female tennis players, since, in Britain at least, women receive only 0.4 per cent of all commercial investment in sports. And as Maria Sharapova recently discovered, those Porsche endorsements are worth a couple of quid.

Finally – and this is important – these dumb-ass comments are a big part of the problem, because they perpetuate the myth that women’s sport is less interesting and therefore has less economic value.

I’d be interested to know what it is Moore finds so tedious about the women’s game, compared to the men’s game of serving ace after ace after ace. I’d be interested to know what’s boring about Serena WiIliams coming within one Grand Slam of equalling Steffi Graf’s record then running a hit of poor form to keep the world on tenterhooks.

Look guys, what don’t you understand here? That if the sports better represented women, women would be more inclined to consume it? That if women were more inclined to consume it you could literally double your audience and the revenue generated by it? It’s not rocket science, is it?

But I’m only a woman, so I’m bound to have a less valid argument or opinion – thank God there are some clever men out there to jump in and explain it to me.


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Written by Jen Offord

Jen is a writer from Essex, which isn’t relevant because she lives in London, but she likes people to know it. As well as daft challenges, she likes cats, cheese and Beyonce. @inspireajen