PHILADELPHIA (Sports Network) -
Recently, the Australian Open joined the U.S. Open as the second of the four Grand Slam events to award equal prize money to both men and women.
Should that be the case...men and women getting equal prize money at the Slams, that is?
I say no.
Will Wimbledon and the French Open follow suit and divvy out proportionate dough?
This tennis writer thinks it should be equal pay for equal play. Men compete in best-of-five-set matches at the majors, while women have the equivalent to half a day with their minimal best-of-three-set encounters.
Doesn't sound like equal work that should warrant equal pay to me.
Some feel that the "excitement" of the women's game merits a comparable paycheck. But let's face it, the women's draw at any given Grand Slam tournament doesn't heat up until the second week (i.e. the quarterfinals and beyond) because of a lack of quality performers in the early rounds, or basically anyone who's not Hingis, Davenport, Venus, Seles, Serena or Pierce. Outside of these six ladies, it's mostly yawn city, tennis-wise, on the women's circuit.
Now Anna Kournikova...that's a different topic altogether.
Upsets occur frequently in the men's game because the competition is that much better. Any Top-20 male can beat another Top-20 male on any given day. You see it every week in the ATP.
It's by no means a given that the men's top seeds are going to reach the latter rounds in their tourneys. There's too many good players. Unlike the women's side, where it seems like only about a half dozen performers warrant high praise for athletic prowess at the present.
To me, the excitement of the unknown makes the men's game the better product.
Let's have women earn equal pay at the Slams by making them play best-of-five sets. The other alternative would be to have the men play best-of-three sets...and that's not going to happen.
This isn't a sexist philosophy, it's just someone basing his thoughts on performance and the reality of a situation.
Clearly, the men work harder than the women at the Slams. Consider this: If men's and women's matches ended in straight sets, the men will have played 50% more sets than the ladies. And if matches go the distance, the men have played 66.67% more sets than their female counterparts.
Add to this equation that the men usually have to win seven tough matches, while the top women typically don't get tested until the quarters or semis. In the early rounds, women are seldom on the court for more than an hour.
Equal pay for "equal" work? That's just not the case at the Slams. Based on the facts, maybe it's the men who should be complaining about the money at the Slams.
And can anybody seriously convince me that the women's game is on an even par with the men's? I prefer the booming serves, serve-and- volley and sheer athletic superiority of the men.
You could argue that the top women are highly entertaining...and I would agree whole-heartedly. But when it comes to the Slams, they just don't entertain us for as long or put in as many hours of work as the men do.
And who's kiddin' who? Would you rather watch a classic three- plus-hour Pete Sampras vs. Andre Agassi championship match, or a brief hour-and-a-half Martina Hingis vs. Venus Williams final. I'll take the lengthier Pistol Pete vs. Andre showdown, and I think networks the world over would concur.
The level of competition on the women's side needs to rise to that which exists on the men's. The competition on the ladies' side is...for the most part...soft.
The men clearly bust it harder out there, as a final bit of evidence will show. Would it be a tougher day at the office if you battled men's world No. 5 Yevgeny Kafelnikov or women's world No. 5 Conchita Martinez...men's No. 10 Tim Henman or the women's No. 10 Kournikova...Patrick Rafter or Sandrine Testud?
There's absolutely no question that men and women should earn the same amount of money for doing the same job. They're just not doing the same job at the Grand Slams.