In 2018, the World Surf League announced that they were instituting equal pay in competitions for male and female surfers. This is a historic event for women in the sporting industry.
In most sporting events women earn significantly less than men. This is in almost all pay areas ranging from contracts to competition winnings. As a skier, I commonly see women winning significantly less in competitions than their male competitors. Personally, I never understood why women earn less in competitions because participants are fundamentally doing the same thing.
In recent years, the World Surf League received criticism after a picture surfaced of two winners at WSL event. It showed the girls league winner with a $4,000 check and the male league winner with a $8,000 check. This created a large backlash for the World Surf League. Many took to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to talk about the unfairness of the girl receiving half the amount of cash prize (NPR).
The World Surf League stated that they did not create equal pay in competitions because of backlash from the photo, but the equal pay change did happen within the same year (WSL).
Creating equal pay for women is a great stride for equality in the sporting world. It also sets the bar for what other sports should be doing.
This decision by World Surf League will change the course of women's pay in all sports.
Now, every other sport will be under more scrutiny for not paying women and men the same amount.
From a public relations standpoint this is a complicated situation to handle. All other sports will be receiving scrutiny for not paying women the same amount. This means that PR teams should know how to handle the situation beforehand and try to alleviate the situation.
One way to alleviate the situation would be to show a case study to the CEOs of why it would be beneficial to pay women and men the same amount. Displaying a case study will give the CEO a real life example of why equal pay of women is important. Also it will allow the CEO to see possible ramifications for not progressing with current trends.
The World Surf League is able to use and promote that they pay men and female athletes the same amount which is great press for the sport. Surfing in the past was commonly known for being a men's sport and not including women. However, the World Surf League was able to fight against that and became the forefront for women equality in sports.
The payment of women in sports is starting to be a more and more relevant topic. There has been many articles and news pieces about women having different treatment in sports and pay.
The New York Times did a opinion piece on female runners losing sponsorships when they became pregnant. The piece looks at how women’s contracts would be paused if they chose to become pregnant and the women would then lose her job and health care. This is terrible PR for Nike and other athletic companies that sponsor females. The article looks at how this is a common practice for many companies.
This is something that on a ethical level should not be happening but also is extremely unfair for women.
Surfing which I consider to be a part of the outdoor community is setting the tone for what other sporting events should be doing in terms of paying women.