Is the WSL using a silly algorithm to both claim that pay 'tween men and women is equal while paying women half as much?
I will warn you, from the outset, that this should not be a post BUT I’ve been puzzling over World Surf League sexism and the subsequent media story and the sub-subsequent World Surf League response since I pressed “publish” on the cut n pasterpiece “#metoo: WSL steps in sexist tar pit!” earlier today.
To review, the WSL sanctioned a something star in South Africa where Jordy Smith purposely threw his heats (is this legal as it pertains to sport betting?) and the female winner appeared to earn exactly half as much as her male counterpart.
A photo of both winners, the female holding a 4000 rand big cardboard cheque and the male holding an 8000 rand big cardboard cheque, made the rounds and the event sponsor threw the WSL under the bus saying that it was there policy and the WSL South African spokesperson responded by saying:
“It highlights an issue, but it’s a very complicated one,” he said.
The WSL argument comes down to the concept of prize-money-per-surfer, which it says shows the equality of pay between male and female competitors.
It works like this: say there are 10 surfers competing for a total pot of $100 in prize money. That works out to a ratio of $10-per-surfer. The winner gets $50, and the runners up get the rest.
Now say there is a female competition of five surfers. At the same ratio of $10-per-surfer, the total prize money is $50. The winner gets only $25.
That was the case at the Ballito Pro, the WSL said. There were twice as many male surfers as female ones: 36 compared to 18. To keep the same money-per-surfer ratio for men and women, the prize money for the female winner had to be half as much as the men.
“Men get double the prize money only because there are double the competitors,” Will Hayden-Smith said.
But I still don’t get it and everything still seems utterly sexist. Right? Like, if you are going to have equal prize money then shouldn’t female surfers get twice as much if there are half as many? And if you are going to penalize the females because there are less of them competing shouldn’t you damn well make sure that there are not less of them competing?
I remember when the WSL rolled out their “equality of pay” schtick and I thought, “How wonderful. They should advertise that more.” The fact they didn’t was confusing but just this moment right now I understand why they didn’t advertise more. And it is because it is a total lie. The World Surf League caps the number of female surfers competing and uses a silly algorithm to both claim that pay is equal while paying half as much.
Now I’ve got two corruption charges to chase. This Pulitzer is going to be so so so sweet.