At the end of May, Forbes released a list of the world’s 50 highest-paid athletes.
“Our earnings figures are derived from salaries, bonuses, prize money, appearance fees, licensing and endorsement income in the 12 months ending May 1. We do not deduct taxes or agents’ fees” writes Kurt Badenhausen.
Coming in at no. 1 by a long shot was Tiger Woods ($75 million). A female athlete did not crack the list until no. 29.
Maria Sharapova earned a whopping $24 million in the span of a year, most of it coming from an endorsement deal with Nike.
She was the only female athlete on the list.
As a female hockey player who was drafted to the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) this past August, these numbers don’t surprise me in the least.
They do leave a sour taste in my mouth though.
Two weeks ago the Los Angeles Kings inked defenceman Drew Doughty to an eight-year, $56 million deal. This 21-year-old, who is a year younger than I am, is the team’s highest-paid player by annual salary and the league’s third-highest-paid defenceman by average salary.
My Twitter timeline was full of Doughty related tweets so I decided to partake in the conversation.
“Ugh. NHL Guys like Doughty make more $ per game than I do per year WORKING. If I had been born with a penis I could be a millionaire too.” – @mbouf
Female hockey players don’t get paid to play at the professional level, yet they are required to attend two practices and two games a week and still find time to do off-ice training while balancing a full time job to support themselves and their families.
Sure, they get to ‘play for free’ and they have an elite league to play the game they love so much, but so do NHL players.
They don’t have their own arenas, heck, they barely have their own team dressing rooms (and when they do, they don’t look any different than a regular dressing room. No flat screen TVs, gym equipment, state-of-the-art showers etc…)
The matching equipment the players wear in games (gloves and pants) is used in previous seasons and passed down until it’s so far gone it has to be replaced.
For a league where you can pay less than $10 to see Canadian Olympic gold medalists go head-to-head on the ice, it’s pretty sad that they can barely afford to cover the costs of a full season and don’t even have money in the current budget for playoffs.
In all fairness, there are several female athletes who are millionaires. In August Forbes released a list of the 10 highest-paid female athletes for earnings between July 1, 2010 and July 1, 2011. Seven of the top ten were tennis players; a sport that now sees men and their female counterparts receiving equal payouts and the end of most tournaments.
There are many reasons why female athletes in professional sports like hockey, basketball, football and golf do not get paid nearly as much as male athletes.
Men’s sporting events typically garner more media exposure, higher attendance and greater amounts of sponsorship dollars.
I get it.
You can’t spend money you don’t have. If the leagues don’t pull enough revenue in, they can’t afford to pay their athletes, or pay them as much.
I guess what this means is it’s time to show female athletes the recognition we show our beloved male athletes.