Whether you're AFL, football, union, league, tennis, golf, surfing or professional curling, the recent Matildas equal pay decision is a landmark moment for pay equality in sport. But to a lot of people, it seems completely unjustified. Here's what you should tell them.
2. FEMALE ATHLETES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN DISCRIMINATED AGAINST
There was never a stage when women and men’s sports where given an equal playing field, and people simply chose to follow men’s sports instead.
Right through the first half of the 20th century, when male sports where becoming highly organised, marketed and the first professional contracts were being established, women’s sport was actively discouraged.
Women couldn’t even form football teams in England and most other European countries throughout the 1920s. It was seen as ‘unwomanly’. The discrimination against female athletes continues to this day, but the current rise in opportunities for females now gives us an opportunity to redress this.
Women’s sport has long-suffered from a dearth of marketing, funding and organisation, so they’re starting from a vastly inferior base.
Anybody who watched the US national team at the Women’s World Cup knows that at the highest level, female football is just as highly skilled and entertaining as male football.
Just as Serena Williams is equally impressive to watch as Roger Federer, or Karie Webb was just as exciting as Greg Norman, or Elyse Perry bashes just as many sixes as David Warner. The Matildas are just as exciting to watch as the Socceroos (if you like winning, they’re more so).
But it will take decades to bring the rest of the field up to the elite level if we simply assume that laissez-faire free market capitalism is the only way forward. Which is incredibly unfair considering we actively discouraged and prevented women playing professional sport for well over a century. In order to level the playing field, now we have to actively encourage it.
But crucially, this does not mean that male sporting sides are simply subsidising their female counterparts…