Interest in battle of the sexes never wanesNow that we’ve had Annika Sorenstam playing with the men on the PGA Tour, other women seem to be following in her footsteps. For whatever reason they want to continue the battle of the sexes.
According to Golfonline, the 13-year-old sensation Michelle Wie is scheduled to play at the Bay Mills Open Players’ Championship, a Canadian PGA event, in August. Pak Se-ri has announced that down the pike she plans to participate in a men’s event.
I wrote earlier this year that Ms. Sorenstam’s desire to play on the men’s tour was probably fueled by the recognition and the money that go with it. As a reminder, she won more than half the tournaments she participated in last year ― a feat that even Tiger Woods has never done ― but Tiger rakes in a lot more green than Annika when he swings a club.
That’s why Ms. Sorenstam wanted to play with the boys.
All of this ballyhoo nicely reflects two issues that have been simmering in the sports world for some time.
First is the flap over unequal prize money for men and women. At the 2002 Wimbledon, the men’s champion earned $756,000 while the winner of the women’s title got just $700,000. Sure, men play longer matches on average, a best three out of five sets instead of two out of three, but many people have nonetheless argued for the same size pot of gold.
Regardless of playing time or length in meters to a golf hole, at the bottom of this is that TV ratings and sponsorship have a lot to do with the purses. In most cases, television producers prefer men’s sports to women’s because of the higher presumed return on their advertising coin. There is no conspiracy or sexual discrimination involved. It’s just the way it is ― it’s business.
Gender equality in the sports world is the second issue. Some sports are traditionally viewed as male- or female-only due to the nature of the games. Boxing falls into this category.
Although some women do compete in the ring, they do not generate attention for their athletic skills but for the curious fact they are ladies throwing punches at each other.
There is a reason why sports are divided into male and female categories. It’s because only a few gifted athletes can excel in sports that are generally thought to be advantageous to the opposite sex due to their God-given physical attributes.
If an athlete is talented enough, he should be allowed to compete in any sport ― whether trading punches with Mike Tyson or synchronized swimming. In sports, what matters most is whether one can compete successfully. Sports fans’ hearts beat because contests are fun to watch, especially if they are hard-fought battles to become No. 1.
In the long run, it’s probably best for the two sides to remain in their respective camps unless some genetic mutations over time make both genders physically equal.
As it is, acts such as Ms. Sorenstam’s will only serve those who happened to be sponsoring highly spotlighted events. In this case, it’s Bank of America. Ms. Sorenstam will go back to the LPGA and so will Pak Se-ri. They will make money there because they play under conditions best suited for them.
by Ines Cho