‘Equal by nature’: World Surf League’s gender parity pay decision makes waves
The US-based WSL revealed the step on Wednesday, saying that from the 2019 season onwards, male and female surfers would be awarded the same prize money at all its competitions.
In taking the decision, the WSL has become the first US-based global sports league to launch equal prize money for men and women.
We are pleased to announce that from 2019, equal prize money will be awarded to male and female athletes across all WSL controlled events. The WSL is proud to be the first American-based global sports league to offer gender pay equality. #CatchThisWavepic.twitter.com/y8cY8nlTc8— World Surf League (@wsl) September 5, 2018
CEO Sophie Goldschmidt said that removing any pay disparity was "simply the right thing to do," and that "we want to be at the forefront of pushing for equality in all walks of life, starting on the waves.”
The news was also hailed by Australia’s female world number 1, Stephanie Gilmore, who said she hopes it “serves as a model for other sports, global organizations and society as a whole.”
Male surfing icon Kelly Slater also lauded the WSL, saying:"The women on the tour deserve this change. The female WSL athletes are equally committed to their craft as the male athletes and should be paid the same."
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It’s an honor to take part supporting the @wsl in announcing prize money pay equality for men and women in surfing. It’s awesome that they’ve taken it upon themselves to step up and make this statement for the collective group. I’m convinced that men want to rule the world to try and impress women! But it’s easier and more flattering to start by treating them as our equals in the workplace. It’ll be interesting to hear people’s comments regarding the topic. I believe it’s a great precedent to set in sports and challenges what has been the norm. My brothers and I were raised predominantly by our mom on a small weekly paycheck so it’s refreshing to set an example as a sport for what should be the norm, and not the exception, in society. #CatchThisWave is the hashtag. Join in the conversation! ✌🏽🏄🏽♂️ • • • • After reading comments, people make a lot of valid but, frankly, redundant points about open markets. This isn’t a market dictating who gets paid more for selling goods. This is a choice by the owners of our tour to give equal prize money for equal commitment to the sport and respective careers. Good on ‘em for the gesture and support of the #WomenWhoShred. Maybe anyone who has a problem with it should have to surf against them for rights to an opinion?! 🤷🏽♂️👊🏽😀
The praise was echoed by some Twitter users, who said the WSL was leading the way for gender equality in sport.
Well done!! Why is every sport not like this #stillfighting— P.Lewis (@FutsalMaster1) September 6, 2018
Thank you this is beautiful 🙏🏼 🍻— Olivia Brown (@Olivia_J_Brown) September 6, 2018
Proud to be a surfer right now!— Fábio Erdos (@FabioErdos) September 6, 2018
However, others were less swept up in the euphoria, questioning the logic behind the decision and saying that pay should only be equal if the revenues generated by both sexes were the same.
Rather, revenue generated by male athletes will be used to subsidise female athletes so the WSL can remain at the forefront of political correctness. You’re really on top of your sanitised game.— DS (@dontknowmuch101) September 5, 2018
Great news so now the women and men will surf the same amount of heats to earn the same amount of money. Equal work equal pay.— CT (@christayls) September 6, 2018
Isn’t prize money be based off of contest revenues including sponsorships, license fees, advertising, ticket sales and entry fees? If women are drawing the same crowds, etc., they should get the same prizes.— 🇺🇸Charles Hamerle❌ (@CharlesHamerle) September 6, 2018
The WSL faced criticism earlier this year when a photo from a junior event in South Africa showed the difference in prize money between the male and female winners.
And for those not in the know... this is the current conversation. Same ocean. Same boards. Same amount of difficulty. Same passion.Different winnings. Like 50% difference.#GenderPayGap#BallitoPropic.twitter.com/FPp3WRywpN— Brent Lindeque (@BrentLindeque) June 27, 2018
Under the current WSL system, the overall prize purse is based on the number of participants in each event, with men’s competitions typically featuring more surfers.
That means male winners are able to claim funds from a much bigger pot – around $600,000 in the Championship Tour 2018, according to Fortune.com – while women take prize money from a pot of around $300,000, with the winners therefore earning much less.
The change from next season will allow top female surfers the chance to earn the same as their male counterparts.