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Why does the highest paid athlete in the world, Michael Jordan, have a net worth of 1.4 billion dollars, whereas the highest paid female athlete, Serena Williams, only have a net worth of 18.1 million dollars? This question further proves the distinct differences between men and women and the role they play today in our culture. Money is one of the many problematic differences women have to accept when pursuing a career. For example, the statistics for male and female athletes is outrageous when being compared with pay when competing in the same professional sport.
Another factor to consider when comparing the two sports is the psychology aspect when dealing with a matter of male vs. female sporting events. Elite male and female athletes psychological differences are so great and is the reason why many times they don’t hardly ever compete with each other. Men have larger bodies which allows them to more strength, endurance, and overall cardiovascular fitness to help them perform better.
Is this why males are sought as the dominant athletes, rather than female athletes? Does this show why male athletes earn more money and better viewer ratings than women? Based on research, it is has been found male athletes do in fact have a greater influence, in comparison to women, through sporting events such as basketball, golf, and olympic swimming. When it comes to professional basketball, male athletes are considered more elite than female athletes. An example of this would be the viewer rating for NBA and WNBA.
Views for the NBA games went up 8% from the 2016-2017 season at 1.28 million viewers. Where as the WNBA has only an average of 250,000 viewers, which is a tremendous difference compared to the NBA. While that may be a shocking statistic, the something difference in money for NBA and WNBA athletes is something. For example, reigning WNBA MVP Sylvia Fowles earned $109,000 last year, whereas reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook earned 28.5 million in 2017. Many would say that these numbers are close enough to even compare, which I would agree. The reason for a comparison though is the fact that these are the same exact sports, just played separately by gender.
Another crazy statistic with difference in pay is between the highest paid NBA player, Stephen Curry, who is getting $34.7 million this season. Where as the highest paid and star athlete for the WNBA Candace Parker earned a shallow amount compared to NBA players, who received $113,500 in 2017. Forbes reports that WNBA pays less than 25% of the revenue earned that season to their athletes, however, the NBA revenues pays 50% of what they make to their athletes. While there is a huge difference in pay between NBA and WNBA athletes, many of the same issues occur within other professional sports like golf. Where does professional golf stand in viewer rating between male and female athletes, in comparison to professional basketball. LPGA coverage in 2017 had an average of 221,000 viewers for that season. Whereas,in 2017 PGA had an average of 1.25 million viewers for that season, which made ratings increase 25%. In 2017, the Masters PGA golf tournament had 11.1 million viewers. For LPGA, however, they had the most viewers during the RICOH Women’s British Open, which had 1.1 million viewers. While this was the best season for having the most views in LPGA, those views still don’t SOmething in comparison to the Master’s PGA golf tournament.
Now there is a distinct difference between viewer ratings in golf between male and female athletes just like basketball, how does their pay differential compare to that of basketball’s? According to Forbes, Annika Sorenstam has earned $20 million in tournament money. Tiger Woods, however, made a tremendous $43.3 million in tournament money. While that isn’t as big of a pay difference as the male and female athletes deal with in professional basketball, there is still a huge significant gap between the two for golf. Similar to golf, Olympic swimming athletes deal with distinct differences between male and female athletes when it comes to money and viewer ratings to further prove the difference of influence between male and female sports. In Olympic swimming, male athletes dominate the amount of money for paid sponsorship, as well as the viewer ratings during the 2012 London Olympic Games. Male Olympic swimming athlete Michael Phelps has an extreme amount of money through endorsements from several big time companies. His net worth is $55 million because of his outstanding Olympic career in swimming as he has won several gold metals and set an insane amount of new world records. He is the highest paid male Olympic swimming athlete according to Success Story(2018). Diana Nyad is the highest paid female Olympic swimming athlete as she has a net worth of $10 million according to Success Story(2018).
She is not only an Olympic swimmer, but also a journalist and author. Forbes(2018) states, “In London, 28 million people tuned in to watch Phelps clinch the gold in the 4x100m individual medley. Even more people–28.7 million–tuned in to watch him lose the 400m medley to Locke, which is 8 million more than watched the event in 2008.” Now Missy Franklin is a female Olympic swimmer and competed at the 2012 London Olympic Games at the age of 17. Even though she doesn’t have the background of Phelps, she still helped bring in a whopping 31.6 million viewers on average for that years Olympic Games, according to Nielsen. The Olympic Games is a hard comparison to other professional sports because this one is broadcasted all over the world.
However, the gap is still there when it ultimately comes down to the role that the gender differences play in the Olympic Games. Through much conducted research, male athletes seem to be the elite for professional sports. Sometimes it seems as though it isn’t worthy or fair to compare male and female athletes, even though they are competing in the same sport. The overall result from the research left no doubt that male athletes have more influence in professional sports like basketball, golf, and Olympic swimming over female athletes. In every sport researched, male sporting events had earned an excessive more amount of money and viewer ratings than female sporting events which in turn shows they have the greater influence when it comes to sports. Regardless, the amount of money both professional male and female athletes make put them in the upper class category. The real question, however, is do these athletes, whether male or female deserve the tremendous amount of money and fame they receive each year?
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