Stab Magazine | Internet Reacts To The WSL's Pay Equality Announcement
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Internet Reacts To The WSL’s Pay Equality Announcement

Mostly dazzling reviews with a sprinkling of misogynistic vitriol. 

news // Sep 7, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Isn’t it wild that the WSL is the first American-based global sports organization to promise equal pay for its male and female athletes?

In a country where the cultural impetus to achieve gender/racial/etc. equality runs rampant, it’s amazing that surfing, a relative fringe sport that has been historically dominated by males, was the trailblazer of this sure-to-be-followed path.  

Naturally this story was picked up by major news agencies across the world, and responses were widely positive: 

“Same sports. Same wages. It should be that simple, right?” read Forbes“But paying women equally has not been straightforward. Male patriarchy in sports is a centuries-old battle where women have challenged sexist barriers and restrictive notions about their physical appearance and athletic ability. Overcoming gender stereotypes in surfing, a strong masculine sport, has been especially challenging for women. But they have persevered and now will be recipients of equal pay.”

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Steph deserves every fucking penny, we think. Photo: WSL

“World surfing is leading the way to pay parity with the backing of two of the sport’s greatest male and female champions,” The Guardian gushed. 

From breaking waves to bridging the gap in equal pay, world surfing has set the standard for other sports to follow,” CNN applauded.  

Five years ago, the new WSL ownership added more women’s events to the Championship Tour, taking them from 8 events to the 10 they compete in now,” said USA Today. “They also upped the quality of the events for women, adding stops at J-Bay, Fiji, Keramas, Trestles, and Maui. In addition to committing to equal marketing and promotion for women, the league also added women to the Big Wave Tour in 2016.”

Of course there were also the naysayers – not necessarily in the form of mainstream media outlets but rather disgruntled individuals (almost all males) who at worst want to denigrate women for their very presence in the sport, and at best want to point out certain financial disparities in the WSL’s recent decision.

The main financial argument is that because women aren’t as “good” as men at surfing, they draw less viewers, which in turn creates less value for sponsors, which therefore justifies their lesser pay. 

And on an even playing field, that makes sense. 

Why should a person who produces 2x for a company be paid the same as another that produces 1x?

What these critics fail to recognize and/or expressly ignore is that this issue is a financially-based self-fulfilling prophecy.

The more that little girls see surfing as a viable financial option and as something that’s “cool” to do (by way of increased marketing of female athletes – another of the WSL’s recent initiatives), the more they’ll improve their skills, therefore leading to an increased organic audience, then ad dollars, etc.

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Slater gets it. Photo: The Players’ Tribune

So the WSL is thinking big-picture with this move.

Not only are they gaining international acclaim for being the first American league to offer pay equality, but in doing so they’ve created a platform to rectify a centuries-long male compensation bias in sport.

It was a brilliant marketing strategy for the WSL, but also the right thing to do. 

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