September 16, 1996 · Cavalier Daily

Earning Equality

This opinion article discusses the unequal funding for men's and women's college sports, and unequal salaries of male and female coaches. He asserts that, from a market economist's perspective, the higher popularity of men's sports makes them more lucrative than women's. Therefore, he argues, men's sports and male coaches should receive more funding than their female counterparts. He concludes that this necessary inequity could be resolved by increasing the visibility of women's sports.


1996-09-16 Cavalier Daily Earning Equality.pdf
Luther Blandford Pilkinton
Cavalier Daily
Cavalier Daily
Earning Equality
A SEPT. 8 article in the Washington Post entitled "Still Shooting for Pay Equity, 33 Years After it Became Law" questioned how far reforms have gone to insure that men's and women's athletic programs receive equal funding and that their coaches earn equal pay. While the debate about gender equity in sports has existed for years, many participants in that argument fail to duly consider why those involved with women's sports don't fare as well. Here at the University one need not look any farther than University Hall to see that inequity: the men's basketball team draws larger crowds than the more successful women’s squad.
The gender equity argument usually draws its participants I=into two camps that make sensible, yet short-sighted arguments. Certainly, there always will be a feu Buchananites out there who simply think that women’s sports should never be held in as high esteem as men's athletics.
Obviously, they have not heard of the Equal protection Clause in the Constitution, much less the Equal Pay Act that Congress passed 33 years ago.
Basically, the debate boils down to two rational, and genuinely good-natured opposing arguments. First, the hard-core feminist argument contends that men’s and women's collegiate programs should be given equal funding. After all, they argue, the Equal Pay Act should have ironed out the wrinkles in the system, Supposedly the act should give females coaches equal pay for equal work. They argue — with little dissent - that women's athletic programs have been undervalued for years and now is the time to correct that deficit. since the two sexes legality are equal.
Yet, others have a made a persuasive argument that it is perfectly normal for male coaches to earn higher salaries because of the free market’s operations. With few exceptions, men's sports have more fans — and, thus, more revenue — then [sic] women’s athletics. To a market economist, the work that men's and women’s coaches perform is not equal. While that may not be fair, it is nevertheless a fact. And in our cruel capitalist nation, the basic forces of supply and demand produce such inequities.
Furthermore, just because salaries are not equal doesn’t mean that there necessarily is a conspiracy against the Iow-earner. Even though the University’s lacrosse coach does not earn as much as football coach George Welsh, we don't assume that our school actively discriminates against lacrosse players. The football team receives far more lucrative ticket receipts, endorsements and television contracts than the lacrosse squad. Just because two people may work equally hard and be equally good at their jobs does not mean that they necessarily deserve similar paychecks.
Although those two arguments polarize individuals to extreme positions, we can achieve a solution that satisfies both the cruel-hearted market gurus and our soft, equity-motivated idealists. While I find the market-based approach slightly more persuasive than the equity argument, it still contains some problems. The market is a great tool if it is used to determine how to run things most efficiently. But it simply cannot — and should not — reveal how things should be. Just because coaches in men's programs earn more than those in women’s programs does not mean that it should stay that way. One way to correct it is for students to make efforts to attend women's athletic events with the same religious fervor they have for men’s sports.
Although the coaches of women's teams deserve more recognition than they receive, we can't simply give them what their male counterparts are earning and just leave it at that; By establishing a price floor for women's coaches, we are creating more problems than we solve.
Anyone who's taken ECON 201 knows that when salaries are higher than their equilibrium rate, the supply of labor (in this case applicants for jobs) will be much higher than the demand for their services. Besides, merely altering a salary will not affect the public's view of women's sports.
For women's coaches to earn more, spectators need to watch more women's athletic events. But we simply can't say, “Gee, it's really unfair that women’s coaches don't make enough" and then spend Saturday afternoon at Scott Stadium and all of Sunday with our eyes glued to the Redskins game.
We need to create a working system that respects market forces in addition to striving for the ideal of gender equity. Fortunately, during the past few years we have seen many Americans give women's sports another look, whether on the Olympic, collegiate or even the professional level. Women's athletics are covered far more extensively than they have been in the past. Still, we can do a lot more.
Perhaps women's athletics never will attain the pomp and pretension of men’s athletics. Nevertheless, everyone from parents to teachers to legislators can help bring women’s sports to the forefront. While that solution may sound cheesy, the only way to ensure equity and economic efficiency is to change our existing attitudes. Still, that change can't take place overnight; increasing the coverage of women's athletics is a long- term process. But if attitudes can change over the long haul, gender equity will become a reality in every respect — not just with regard to coaches' paychecks.
Luther Blandford Pilkington
Associate Editor
Date Added June 11, 2016
Date Modifed December 24, 2017
Collection Cavalier Daily: articles about gender discrimination

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