Do Women Surfers Deserve Equal Prize Money?

Or are Steph Gilmore, Tyler Wright and co 'riding on the coattails' of their male counterparts?

“If I was (sic) 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. They really have.” said Raymond Moore last year, shortly before resigning as Chief Executive of the Indian Wells tennis tournament.

Moore continued saying that the Women’s Tennis Association was a “lucky organisation” which “rides on the coattails” of the men.

Following Moore’s comments, World n.1 Novak Djokovic weighed in by saying ‘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. I think that’s one of the reasons why maybe we should get awarded more. Women should fight for what they think they deserve and we should fight for what we think we deserve.”

In the ensuing media fall out, various articles list professional sports that do not offer equal prize money to men and women. Surfing, making a rare appearance in mainstream UK press at least, listed among them.

Yet while the first prize in Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour events is not equal between men and women, the total prize purse, divided per surfer, is.


Tyler, earned $60k for her Gold Coast win, versus Wilko's $100k

Which brings us to ponder, is surfing behind the times, or ahead? Do women deserve equal prize money, such as that awarded by the US Open of tennis since 1971? Or should audience size, demand and market forces come in to play, as Djokovic advocates?

Tyler Wright earned $60k for her Gold Coast win versus Wilkinson’s $100k, while the losing finalists for Roxy and Quik pros – as every event on the Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour received $30k and $50k respectively.

Like tennis, the men do spend more time actually performing. While mens’ tennis matches are best of 5 sets, womens’ are best of 3, meaning that they actually get more per hour of court time than men. The shortest path to a men’s WCT event victory is to win 6 heats, versus 5 for the women.

There are 18 female surfers in the field versus 36 men, meaning the purse for the women is equal per surfer; a Mens’ WCT event purse, at $551k is double the womens’ at $275k.

But whatever, that’s not making headlines. The headlines are the winners holding up cheques of unequal value.

Is this an outrage?

Or, is it in fact the case that anyone who gets paid tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for winning a single sporting event should consider themselves extremely lucky, considering around 4 billion people worldwide currently live on less than $50/month.

Should then, the male victor merely consider himself more lucky than his already-lucky female counterpart, rather than her feeling the victim of an injustice?

Could feminist ire be better directed championing the cause of the 4 billion? Rather than furthering the position of already wealthy sportspeople?

Do let us know your thoughts.


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