Professional Sport As A Business And Historical Factors Of Sport

Topics: Fifa World Cup

In the Sports Industry now there is a significant issue about whether female athletes should receive equal pay, sponsorship, and media coverage, there is an ongoing discussion about this issue not only in New Zealand but globally. Some of the significant words and their meanings that will be used frequently involve, equality which is significant in this piece means “the rights of different groups of people to have a similar social status and receive equal treatment” and gender which means “either of the two sexes (male and female), especially when considered regarding social and cultural differences rather than biological ones, the term is also used more broadly to denote a range of identities that do not correspond to established ideas of male and female”.

This essay is divided into two sections. The first section is about the professional sport as a business and how it relates to Elite female athletes and how they’re represented in the industry. The second section is the historical factors of sport and how they have influenced/affected elite female athletes over the past century and whether they deserve equal resourcing or not.

Critics believe that Professional Female sports players do not get as much media coverage/viewers as Professional Male sports players do when they have the same job. In most traditional sports e.g Basketball, MMA, and Football Female teams attract a lot fewer viewers when compared to Male teams, for example, in 2015 at the Women’s Football World Cup only 750,000,000 viewers watched, and at the 2014 Male’s Football World Cup 3,002,000,000 viewers tuned in to watch.

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The Male Football teams are a lot more popular to watch compared to the Female Football team from these statistics, investors then prefer to invest in Male Football teams because they know they will make more money out of it. However, this is only based on one sport. If you look at the Tennis US Open in 2018 the Women’s Final had 3,101,000 viewers and the Men’s final only had 2,065,000 viewers. Women attracted more viewers than the Males in the Open final so why aren’t they getting paid the same as men if they are attracting more people into watching the sport? Looking at the statistics these are two different sports with different groups of fans interested in each sport but there should be sex equality in all sports when they do the same job.

Women in the sports industry are after equal pay just like women are in any other job. In the sports industry, your job is based on the physiology side and how well you play your sport. It is a physiological fact that men are stronger, faster, and bigger than women, nothing will change that, men also have stronger muscles and bones with higher circulating hemoglobin which allows them to have greater endurance. The Soccer Federation in the U.S argues “It’s not a sexist stereotype to recognize the different levels of speed and strength required for two different jobs”. Through this comment, the Soccer Federation was referring to the Male and Females team. This comment was made as part of the Soccer Federation court case. All 28 current members of the U.S National Female Soccer team 2019 filed a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation, alleging ‘institutionalized gender discrimination. The Captain of the team Carli Lloyd supported these actions saying “I think we’ve proven our worth over the years just coming off a World Cup win, the pay disparity between men and women is just too large and we want to continue to fight”.

Carli Lloyd is not lying when she says the U.S National Soccer team has proven their worth they have, and I believe they deserve to be paid the same as the U.S National Male Soccer team. It is not only in sports that there is unequal pay, but it’s also in most jobs. In the U.S median annual earnings for Women are 19% lower than for Males. The US Female National Soccer team has thrived, winning four of the eight FIFA World Cups that have been held. They won in 1991,1999,2015, and most recently 2019. The US Men’s National team has not been as successful, playing in the FIFA World Cup since 1930 and only placing 3rd in 1930. In 2018 the US men’s team failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup. When you Compare the US Female team and The Male US team it’s quite clear that the Female team has been a lot more successful than the Male team yet they are getting paid less than them, they should be paid equally to the Men’s team.

There is controversy about this as Critics would suggest the Men’s team compete against more teams and harder competition than the women. According to FIFA, there are 159 National Female Football teams and 210 Male Football Teams. From this data, Male Football Teams do have a larger amount of competition than Female Football Teams which is why they get more media coverage. If Women’s Sports teams were offered the same marketing and equal television time they’d be more popular and bring in more money for their federations but federations aren’t risking taking that chance because they are going off what the consumer wants and treating it like a business. Men’s sports teams get more advertising, media, and television time than Female sports do. In the U.K a study was done on the representation of Female athletes in media, they focused mainly on Female Football representation against Men’s Football. Four local newspapers in the East Midlands had the highest circulations. The four newspapers were looked at month by month from 2008-2010. In the research, they discovered that there was a noticeably low number of articles on Female Football roughly around 15 articles per year, which is shocking considering that there are several big football clubs in that region including Nottingham Forest Ladies.

There is a slight increase in some of the newspaper’s Female football stories however it isn’t consistent over the 3 years. In 17 months there were no articles on Women’s Football in the Leicester, 15 months in the Lincolnshire Echo, 10 months in the Derbyshire Evening Telegraph, and 8 months in the Nottingham Evening Post. The most noticeable decrease in the data was between 2009-2010 when there was a drastic decline in women’s coverage in the Derbyshire Evening Telegraph only 14 articles were published the whole year less than a third of what was published in the previous years. There are limitations here as this is only from one area of the UK. But there is a significant lack of representation of women’s sports in media and advertising which is putting female sports at a disadvantage to Men’s, as they are getting a lot more advertisements meaning more people are aware of what is happening in the male sporting world. But if Men’s Football is this popular, Businessmen see this as a good investment and a way to make money. In New Zealand Football the NZPFA (New Zealand Professional Football Association) came together and completed their collective bargaining agreement that both Elite Male and Female Footballers, would receive pay parity, equal rights for image use, equal prize money, and parity across travel while representing New Zealand. This is a great start for Female Athletes in getting equality in the Sports Industry. If One Professional Sports Association can do it, why can’t others?

The History of Men’s and Women’s sports has been very different. There is controversy over whether Men have had an advantage in sport as they have been allowed to compete in all sports since Ancient Greece times. Ancient Greece was the birthplace of the Olympics, women were forbidden from being a spectator at the Olympics let alone competing, and later races for women and girls were set up in a neighboring city. When the modern Olympics was created, the founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin said, “Women should not soil the Olympics with their sweat” and then went on to say “an Olympiad with females would be impractical, uninteresting, ungainly and improper”. These comments are sexist in my opinion, and it seems that Baron Pierre de Coubertin had an old-fashioned opinion that women should not participate in sport and are fragile and should focus on bearing children, cleaning, and cooking. Eventually, Women could compete in the Olympics in the second Olympics in 1900 but could compete only in the ‘genteel’ sports of tennis, golf, sailing, croquet, and equestrian, only 22 Females participated out of the 997 athletes. This has given Women an unfair advantage in the sporting world and fewer opportunities compared to Men so shouldn’t they be paid the same for this disadvantage over the years?

Women over time could compete in more sports, they’ve come a long way in not just sport itself but the Olympics. In 2012 at the London Olympics women took part in every sport and had 44% participation, however not every country let women participate. It has been 120 years since the first Olympic games where women could compete, so critics would suggest women should have caught up to men in that time frame. Dr. Valarie Thibault and colleagues measured the trends in the gender performance gap among the top ten Females and top ten males. They discovered an interesting pattern was found across all racing events. At the start of the debut, there is a severe performance gap. Women Athletes then began to narrow this gender divide rapidly. Later in the mid-1980s, the rapid improvement came to a halt, and ever since there has been a 10% performance difference. Here are the results of a comparison done by Dr. Valerie. The comparison is of the results from Athletics in 1984

Athletics 2008 Gold Medallist results in Last Olympic year when Female gold medallist would have won gold against Man Performance gap % Change in the gap since 1984


  • 100M 9.69 secs 1956 8.8% -0.1
  • 200M 19.30 secs 1928 9.6% 0.4
  • 400M 43.49 secs 1920 9.9% 0.6
  • 800M 102.58 secs 1904 9.6% -2.8


  • 100M 10.62 secs 1956 8.8% -0.1
  • 200M 21.34 secs 1928 9.6% 0.4
  • 400M 48.25 secs 9.9% 0.6
  • 800M 113.43 secs 1904 9.6% -2.8

Olympics and the 2008 Olympics

From this statistical information, males have a median 9.3% advantage in timed events. In most areas of the Olympics, the gender gap in top performance is not getting any lower. In most areas, women are no longer catching up with men. This will suggest to some people women do not deserve the same pay, sponsorship, and media coverage as men. I do not agree with this point of view as you cannot deny the science that women and men are biologically different so I would not expect them to be at the same level of performance. Women have only been participating in every sport offered at the Olympic Games since 2012. So do Women deserve equal pay, sponsorship, and media representation if they aren’t competing at the same level as Men?

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Professional Sport As A Business And Historical Factors Of Sport. (2022, Aug 09). Retrieved from

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