Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Prize money whingers - be thankful !

I've spoken my piece on prize money for men and women in tennis before and since it has raised its ugly head again I will once again put my two cents worth forward.

For all that he may have done to promote men's tennis, the dark age sexist remarks of Raymond Moore (CEO Indian Wells Tennis Garden):
“If I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport",
don't deserve a response other than to comment that both Federer and Nadal couldn't give a euro for women's tennis - they only have self interest at heart. 

However it does highlight the egotistical precious need for the male to be the more important gender, that colours so much of the debate surrounding the prize money bickering promoted in the tennis world.

Everyone - sorry all males - were happy and silent until the threat of equality sneaked up on them and wham bam ! they were clobbered by the women being payed the same prize money at the US Open in 1973.  The Australian Open tried it in the eighties and a couple of other times but made it policy from 2001 and Roland Garros and Wimbledon joined the 'terrible' road to equilibrium in 2006 and 2007 respectively.

Well this kick to the manhood of men's tennis was not received particularly kindly.  Just imagine - continuing to be paid horrendously huge cheques for just turning up at tennis matches but at Grand Slams knowing that these lesser beings wearing skirts and serving at lesser speeds were also receiving money at the same obscene rates.
Something needed to be done.  

So the old school arguments rolled out as they continue to, with nothing jazzy or groovy added to the tired old premise that 'we play best of five sets and you girlies only play best of three, so we deserve more prize money because we work longer'.

And yes that is true, in Grand Slam tennis it requires three winning sets to claim victory for men, and just two for women - they are the rules.

I have watched tennis at all levels for many years and I pay for entertainment irrespective of length of matches.  I am satisfied far more from a two set tussle such as the 2008 US Open final between Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic or the three set classic 2010 Aus Open final between Serena and Justine Henin than some of the boring four and five setters that we witness between the men that we just wish would finish so we could move on to more interesting fare such as watching the roof over Rod Laver Arena open or the Wimbledon grass to grow

The point is reward for entertainment, and this is via the skills which the best players have in spades.  Don't just pay for hitting more balls at each other because we have a limited capacity for shifting eyes from one end of the court to the other hour on hour. In fact women at Grand Slam events are more efficient in determining match results - maybe that's a positive thing ? (Another discussion for another day)

Just consider athletics - how should we weight the prize money for an elite sprinter such as Usain Bolt.  He doesn't run as far as world record Kenyan marathon runner Denis Kimetto.  Based on the spurious tennis argument Bolt must be receiving far less money for his paltry 9 or so seconds of effort.

In short this paragraph would rate far less because of the fewer words taken for it to finish than others which may have been longer but less riveting.

Finally, I am not suggesting that men's tennis is less entertaining or worthy than women's. My enjoyment of any tennis tournament that I attend can never be prejudged, but mostly it has been enjoyed gender balanced and so on that basis I cannot find a fair argument for women's prize money to be diminished in comparison to men, or vice versa.

One thing is certain - the length potentially played should never be tied to dollars in prize money.  If that was to be applied fairly then it should be done to the letter, or rather the number.  Dollars received based on total minutes on court per tournament.  Bad luck if you win too quickly !

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