30 06 2009

I plan this to be a really quick post as early morning starts necessitate early nights. Anyway, I enjoy Wimbledon. I enjoy everything about the tournament, its ethos, its nature, its drama. It still seems, in a modern world, so quintessentially English. There is tradition and history to the tournament which will never be lost, even as the nation looks for scant signs of any future winners. Yes, there is Murray (who, incidentally, I’m not convinced will win this year after the gruelling match last night), there is also 15 year old Laura Robson, but she is still many years away from her peak (probably, in all reality, another decade), but very few others who could seriously contemplate threatening.

Anyway, this is not what I wished to comment upon. My main gripe is with the question of equal prize money. For two years now men and women have walked away with equal money dependent upon where they finish in the tournament. I’m a little uncomfortable with this for the simple reason that women play less. Women’s matches, if they go to the full length, will last three sets. Mens though, have the potential to go two sets longer than this (which, at roughly 40 minutes a set means, potentially, an extra hour and twenty minutes playing time). If we throw in the simplistic notion that the mens draw is more competitive than the womens (dominated again this year by the Williams sisters – don’t bank against it being another Williams final) then there is, I feel, a strong argument for questioning this equal pay packet.

Perhaps there is a more fundamental question here, should women play a best-of-five rather than best-of-three? Or should men play best-of-three, not best-of-five? Either way, I feel more comfortable with agreeing about the equal pay for equal time notion. I am not meaning to be controversial here, and am aware of the still not inconsiderable discrepancies in the workplace between men and women. However, I think it is taking things too far for equality to be demanded when the load is not the same. It is not the players fault that they only have to play three sets maximum rather than five, but however the cake is cut, they play less time (at the very least one set less) and so, in my opinion, should be paid accordingly. It is not simply enough to suggest that men and women deserve equal pay, regardless of the load. That sort of thinking is dangerously naive and simplistic, and perhaps does more to alienate than accomodate.




One response

2 07 2009

Just as a follow up, a few figures:

Venus Williams (as of 6.30pm on 2 July): played 6, won 6, sets dropped 0. Total time played 400 minutes (6.67hours). Average time on court per match – 66.6 mins.
Serena Williams: played 6, won 6, sets dropped 1. Total time played 497 mins (8.28hours). Average time on court per match – 82.8mins.

Roger Federer: played 5, won five, sets dropped 1. Total time played 567 mins (9.45hours). Average time on court per match – 113.4mins.
Andy Murray: played 5, won 5, sets dropped 3. Total time played 673 mins (11.2hours). Average time on court per match – 134.6mins.

I think it’s reasonably obvious who’s played more. As a minimum, Federer has played just over an hour more tennis than Serena Williams (who has played a match more). In terms of sheer numbers, it is easy to see why I have the concerns I do.

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