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Old 02-15-2012, 12:21 AM   #1
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WTA, Equal Pay and the LPGA

This conversation was started here: Golf writers say:

...but I didn't want to hijack a Golf Writers LPGA thread with my thoughts on tennis...

...just because I am a big fan of tennis, like a lot of people, doesn't make my opinions correct...so take what I am saying as my opinions...

...it was said in the thread that the WTA benefits from being paired with the men...

...ok, I agree to a point...it does help, particularly at the Majors...in fact, the women and men play together in A LOT of events, not just the Majors, but it's the Majors that count...hardly anybody outside of tennis fans are paying any attention to Victoria Azarenka or Caroline Wozniacki this week, even though they are playing at the Qatar Open...but they were paying attention when they were at the Australian Open...to a degree that Victoria Azarenka showed up on the Ellen show after her title...I wonder how many people in Ellen's audience that day had any idea who Victoria Azarenka was a month ago...

...on the other hand, it's not all pairing with the men...you can make an argument that nobody outside of tennis fans are paying any attention to the men this week either...without looking...how many of you can tell me what events the men are playing this week?

...I think in women's tennis there are REAL stars...I hate to say this, but take one of my two favorite players, Se Ri Pak (the other is Grace Park)...she's a Hall of Famer...25 victories and 5 majors...she's not a star like Venus Williams, Serena Williams or Maria Sharapova...maybe I'm wrong, but in America, I think if you just walked down the street in NYC and asked 100 random people to identify the sport Venus, Serena and Sharapova play and what sport Yani Tseng, Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer play...you would obviously find a lot of people...particularly golf players...who do know the latter group...but as a whole am I out on a limb saying more random people would correctly name the former group's sport...

...the point is, women's tennis has real stars that help put lots of fannies in seats and eyes in front of televisions...and deep down, even the the curmudgeons who run Wimbledon know that...the women deserve to be paid...

...usually people who are against women getting equal pay in tennis cite the men playing best of five against the women playing best of three...but as thrilling as some five setters can be...such as the 5 hour 53 minute marathon at the Aussie Open, this is a specious argument...there's no clock in tennis...you don't get paid by the hour...if Novak Djokovic had beaten Rafael Nadal in an hour and a half in straight sets, he wouldn't get paid any less than beating him in a nearly 6 hour match...and believe me, there have been plenty of boring men's finals in the history of tennis...it's hasn't always been Nadal vs Federer or McEnroe vs Borg in historically great matches...

...it's not about how long you play...it's about the ability to put people in the stands and in front of televisions watching the event (and the commercials!)...the women in tennis have stars currently and have had past stars like Chris Evert, Monica Seles, Billie Jean King that do that...

...detractors again will say Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal now are bigger stars...I don't know if I'd say R-Fed and Nadal are bigger stars than Venus and Serena...particularly here in America...but I will say this...men's tennis is just as top heavy with their stars as the women...they both have great stars at the top...but how many people care about Fernando Verdasco or Tomas Berdych or Janko Tipsarevic? With Andy Roddick on the other side of the mountain and Mardy Fish not really a Major event threat...once you get past Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray...it's gets kind of thin...some interesting guys like Monfils and Tsonga...but they are not household names...

...ok, I didn't want to get into this...but I have to...tennis, the WTA, whether they admit it or not...market the sex appeal of their players...and players like Kournikova, Sharapova, Sabatini...even a young Chris Evert...had a lot of guys watching women's tennis...and here's another point related to that...it's not every guy...and I don't really think there is anything wrong as long as you respect their talent as well...but there are guys who watch women's tennis because they think some of the players are hot...

...obviously, we know there are women golfers who sell their looks as well...but the difference is when a Sharapova match is on, you will see Masha the entire time you watch her match...when you turn on the LPGA, you don't know how many times you'll see Natalie Gulbis...or this year, Sydnee Michaels or Sandra Gal...and if you do, it might only be for a few seconds as they play their shot before they cut to somebody else...

...but the point I'm making...and why women's tennis has value on par with their male counterparts on the ATP...is that women's tennis can draw a huge segment of the same fans who watch the men...even if some of them prefer watching the men, they will still watch a great matchup for the women...they might prefer to see the ATP guys go at it...but they will watch Clijsters take on Wozniacki or Sharapova take on Azarenka or Serena take on anybody...

...I don't even know if I know any tennis fans who ONLY watch the men play...but I'm almost positive...and you guys can tell me if I'm wrong...that most of you know or read posts on other sites from guys who ONLY watch the PGA, even if they are golf fans...maybe there are people who ONLY watch the ATP, but I would wager it's a very, very small minority...in fact, I'm willing to say there might be more people who ONLY watch the WTA...but generally speaking, I think most tennis fans watch both the men and women to a degree that I don't know exists between the PGA and LPGA...and thus, I go back to the point that women's players...especially the stars...deserve equal pay for the value they bring in attracting fans...

Last edited by bangkokbobby; 02-16-2012 at 10:20 AM.
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Old 02-15-2012, 11:17 AM   #2
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Boy, you've made so many good points! Michael Whan is a fool if he doesn't consult with you at least once or twice a day.

I'm a tennis fan and I follow WTA 90% of the time and ATP 10%. I love LPGA and would like to follow it more closely but can't because they're either not playing or they aren't on live HDTV's.

I firmly believe Lexi, Jessica, Stacy, Paula or Michelle can be household names like the Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova but they need to be in contention more than they have been.
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Old 02-15-2012, 11:57 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by 18majors View Post
Boy, you've made so many good points! Michael Whan is a fool if he doesn't consult with you at least once or twice a day.

I'm a tennis fan and I follow WTA 90% of the time and ATP 10%. I love LPGA and would like to follow it more closely but can't because they're either not playing or they aren't on live HDTV's.

I firmly believe Lexi, Jessica, Stacy, Paula or Michelle can be household names like the Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova but they need to be in contention more than they have been.
Oh...trust me...you'll soon hear some of my goofy suggestions the longer you are here!

...but maybe somebody should start a thread..."If you could make 3 suggestions to Michael Whan personally to help the LPGA..." or something like that...
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Old 02-16-2012, 05:14 AM   #4
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BKB, I tried to start a thread "If I were commissioner of the LPGA, I would" a while back and it got nowhere. I suspect I need to learn how to word things so the members of the forum understand what I'm looking for.
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Old 02-16-2012, 08:52 AM   #5
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Commissioners and CEO's need to be good salespeople and drive good deals when available. But first and foremost, they need to have the goods.

Hope Whan continues to drive better TV deals when Lexi, Jessica and Stacy become hot commodities.
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Old 02-16-2012, 10:13 AM   #6
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Hmmm...maybe I will try to start another Commish thread. Maybe something like "If I could have lunch with the Commish..." and give three things I would say to him. It might not be a popular feeling, but the first thing I would tell him is thanks for the job he has already done. Missteps to be sure, but in my eyes far more positive. We all have our idea of the perfect LPGA state, but probably no Commish was going to walk in and be perfect.

Let not forget that when Wham came in, the LPGA stock was plummeting. There were a lot of bridges that needed to be repaired. But I maintain we are in a better place now than a few years ago. I think he's earned the right to continue with his vision of what the LPGA could be. And let's be honest, even at its peak, there is a niche element to LPGA random.

Put it this way. When Whan came in, the house was on fire; losing tournaments and interest, close to a mutiny by some players against the last Commish. At least he has put out the fire and saved enough of the house's foundation to be able to rebuild.
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Old 02-16-2012, 10:22 AM   #7
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Hope Lexi, Jessica and Stacy help the commish by staying in contention and win as many tournaments as they can.
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Old 02-16-2012, 10:42 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by 18majors View Post
Hope Lexi, Jessica and Stacy help the commish by staying in contention and win as many tournaments as they can.
Exactly true. Not just those players, but any stars in any league. Leagues ride their superstars. Magic and Bird took the NBA to higher level, which was catapulted even higher by Jordan.

The PGA was already doing just fine before Tiger (and will do just fine after Tiger) but his emergence attracted people who otherwise might never have cared about golf. I can't even count how many friends I have who follow Tiger but wouldn't know Padraig Harrington if he walked up next to them with a name tag on.

But at the end of the day, the Commish can only do so much. People (and sponsors) pay to see stars.

Oh, and as if it even needs to be said, we are talking about what they need to boost American interest. The LPGA seems to be very popular globally, particularly Asia. But even that is driven in large part by those regions wanting to cheer on their hometown heroes. Would there even be a Taiwan event without the amazing Yani Tseng? Still, I have to say that it seems that in Asia they roll out the red carpet to American stars almost more than we do here. I don't recall any American event where they sent had a special Mercedes decorated with a Pink Panther on it to shuttle Paula around like they did in Taiwan.
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Old 02-16-2012, 10:54 AM   #9
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People in Taiwan, Thailand and the Phillipines are humble and they admire Americans with the best they can. Then again, the best Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese women golfers are all full time LPGA players.

There isn't any questions that the rise of American stars such as Creamer, Wie, Thompson, Korda and Stacy will raise LPGA's profile in the US and the world around.
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Old 02-16-2012, 06:36 PM   #10
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Hopefully either Lexi or Jessica can create something similar to "Linsanity" that's sweeping through NBA right now.
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