The Ongoing Tennis Controversy: Djokovic’s Pay Claim

Today an old and controversial debate reappeared all over the news and social media, and one I can quite honestly see both cases for. The Male vs Female pay debate in Tennis has rumbled on for years, and arose again today after the following comments made by male number 1 Novak Djokovic.

“I think that our men’s tennis world, ATP world, should fight for more because the stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men’s tennis matches.”

Now this argument can’t be dismissed just like that, the man has a point. Sport has quite frankly turned into a business, and in business, it is all about supply and demand. He believes, and the stats below back up, that male tennis matches gain more viewers not just in attendance but also around the world on TV.

  • 973 million viewers for men’s 2015 ATP tour.

  • 395 million for women’s 2015 WTA events and finals.

(BBC and Fordyce, 2016)

However, I disagree that men should earn more purely on these statistics alone because due to their accolade of having more spectators, they also gain more sponsorship deals meaning they’re earning more money due to (arguably) being more popular to watch – so they’re already being paid for their extra viewers.

Nonetheless, the Equal Pay and Equality act (2010) “Entitles a woman doing equal work with a man in the same employment to equality in pay and other terms and conditions.”. Therefore, should men earn more because their matches are best of 5 sets in comparison to women’s best of 3 sets? Or if we want equality then shouldn’t they be playing for equal amounts of time for the same amount of money? For me, time isn’t the deciding factor, it’s where the revenue is coming from. For example, the women’s world number 10 Roberta Vinci earned $2.3m in 2015, compared to the men’s world number 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who earned $2.21m in the same year.

Despite the gap in interest being significantly smaller in Tennis than Golf, Male’s do attract greater interest, but are still paid the same. (Gaines, 2016)

Some will argue football as an example of unequal pay for men and women, despite the same amount of time spent training and playing. Again, this highlights the business aspect of sport where supply and demand takes over, and although this may be against a lot of traditional views in sport and society, you can’t argue with the development sport has made, particularly amongst males.

Removing gender altogether, the higher pay demands seem logical in a sporting context: longer duration of matches, and higher viewing figures should amount to higher earnings. However, in the world we live in today, he’s unnecessarily opened himself up to criticism – and although the bare bones of it are hard to disagree with, he’s making millions of pounds for playing a sport he loves and is likely to be making up the difference in sponsorship deals –  just get on with it!

Will Wood, Leeds Beckett University, Sport Marketing Student

 

References;

BBC and Fordyce, T. (2016) ‘Equal pay is as much a myth as it is a minefield’. [Online] Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/tennis/35863208 [Accessed: 21 March 2016].

Equality and Human Rights Comission (2015) Private and Public Sector Guidance. [Online] Available from: http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/private-and-public-sector-guidance/employing-people/guidance-employers-about-their-rights-under-equality-act-2010/equal-pay/equal-pay-and-equality-act-2010 [Accessed: 21 March 2016].

Gaines, C. (2016) Equal pay for men’s and women’s tennis players is something that benefits both sides. [Online] Available from: http://uk.businessinsider.com/tennis-players-men-women-equal-pay-2016-3?r=US&IR=T [Accessed: 21 March 2016].

Novak Djokovic (2016) quoted in: Press Association (2016) Novak Djokovic suggests male tennis stars should earn more than women. [Online] Available from: http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/tennis/novak-djokovic-sparks-equal-pay-7599342 [Accessed: 21 March 2016].

NovakFanClub (2016) QFs. [Online] Available from: http://novakdjokovicfanclub.com/news/qfs/ [Accessed: 21 March 2016].

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