Saturday, 9 March 2013

Pro Sport & Gender Discrimination

(Obligatory I am not a lawyer, but... Disclaimer Goes Here!)

In a previous post, I linked to a BBC Sport article which discussed (among other things) pay differentials in women's sport.

I think it is worth stopping to ask why these differentials exist?

The "obvious" answer is that the money follows the fans: to take our game in particular, women's cricket draws much smaller crowds, and sells far fewer replica shirts, so there is consequently less money to pay the players.

Except that... the players aren't paid a percentage of the gate or a cut of the replica shirts. The men are paid a fixed fee/salary, as are the women; and in any normal industry this kind of (and let's call a spade a spade here) "discrimination" wouldn't be permitted.

However, professional sport is not a normal industry. It was granted an explicit exclusion from the original 1975 Sex Discrimination Act which was reiterated in the 2010 Equality Act.

What's that all about?

Well again, there is an "obvious" answer: the economics of pro sport are so heavily weighted towards men that any attempt to enforce equality would literally bring the system crashing down. And if you asked the ECB, I'm sure they would tell you that there is no way they could afford to pay Lottie Edwards the same salary as Ali Cook.

If you ask me, this sounds a lot like the kind of arguments that were made against equal pay generally in the 70s - arguments that sound laughable in our more enlightened times.

But regardless, it is The Law so nothing can be done about it... right?

Er... no, actually!

As we have seen a few times recently it is possible to challenge The Law under the Human Rights Act.

Sooner or later someone is going to do this... and I suspect they will win.

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