July 10, 2019

Women's World Cup soccer team demands equal pay. What is equal?

The Left is leveraging the American women's World Cup soccer team's recent championship to argue that their pay should be on par with the American men's team. But what does that mean exactly?  What is equal pay?

First here's some background:


Here's the problem, equal can mean a lot of things.  According to BigThink,
The men's World Cup currently generates more money, by far. For context, FIFA earned upwards of $6 billion from the 2018 men's World Cup. Meanwhile, the women's 2019 World Cup is estimated to earn FIFA about $131 million.

So, even though the U.S. women's team is more successful than the men's team, the numbers suggest that men's soccer is currently a more valuable product — especially on the international stage.
Allow me to extrapolate - when viewed as a percentage of revenue, the women are actually making more than the men.  While you let that marinate, consider the implications of having flat pay regardless of gender; what about regardless of sport? Should field hockey players get the same pay too?  What about regardless of industry? Should McDonald's workers not also be entitled to the same pay as Ruth's Chris Steakhouse staff?  Or as the men's national soccer team?  What about regardless of country?  Should the women's, or men's Bangladeshi soccer team get as much as the Americans?  All of those notions are crazy and here's why:

Some things are more valuable than others. Gold is more valuable than silver.  This also applies to jobs.  Brain surgery is more valuable than floor mopping.  Both have value, but not equal value.  I would not want my mother's brain surgeon making the same as the guy who mops the hospital floor.

This is not to imply that the men's team is more valuable in contributing to national pride than the women's team.  The women's team does better in that regards as they are more successful.  But the product itself, women's soccer, is not as coveted as men's soccer. Therefore there is less revenue available.  Therefore the absolute value of the pay is lower because the pie for men's soccer is so much bigger.  It has more viewers, it has more history, it has more prestige.  That does not make that right, it is just a statement of fact.

Which brings me to my final point.  The women's team is more successful than the men's team because they face far less relative talent.  Many countries don't even have women's soccer teams.  Many of them are newer than the American team, and less established.  Frankly there are only a handful of countries with competitive teams.  In the case of the men, soccer is a global phenomenon, with billions of viewers and millions of participants. It is considerably more difficult for the men's team to do well than it is for the women.  Again, this is just a statement of fact.

So everyone screaming about equality think about what you mean.  There is equality of opportunity, there is equality of talent and equality of outcome.  The only reason anyone should want to see equality of outcome is if, and only if, there is an equality of talent (for soccer this is a relative situation re: men vs. women) and equality of opportunity (for soccer this would mean demand for the product and the ability to be able to compete at it).

Anyone wanting to see equality of outcome without those other conditions is frankly, a Marxist.

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