Preach it, Novak

Yeah. Totally equal in terms of achievements.
The world's greatest tennis player at the moment- who is increasingly becoming a real threat to Roger Federer's peerless status as the "Greatest Of All Time"- recently made some quite innocuous comments about equal pay in tennis between men and women which were immediately blown completely out of proportion by the world's media:
World No.1 Novak Djokovic has questioned equal prize money in tennis, suggesting men deserve to be paid more than women. [...]
"Obviously it's a very delicate situation," he said. "Women deserve respect and admiration for what they are doing. You know, equal prize money was the main subject of the tennis world in the last seven, eight years. 
"I have been through that process as well so I understand how much power and energy WTA and all the advocates for equal prize money have invested in order to reach that. 
"I applaud them for that, I honestly do. They fought for what they deserve and they got it. On the other hand I think that our men's tennis world, ATP world, should fight for more because the stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men's tennis matches. 
"I think that's one of the reasons why maybe we should get awarded more. Women should fight for what they think they deserve and we should fight for what we think we deserve. 
"As long as it's like that and there is data and stats available upon who attracts more attention, spectators, who sells more tickets and stuff like that, in relation to that it has to be fairly distributed."
The backlash was immediate, and vicious. Mr. Djokovic was pilloried by his peers in both men's and women's tennis, and by past legends of the female version of the game. He backed down a few days later and- foolishly- apologised for his comments.

Even The Man himself, Roger "GOAT" Federer, let the side down very badly when he decided to toe the politically correct line:
"I'm happy that tennis has produced some of the greatest female athletes in the world," he said. "Equal prize money is a good thing."
Uh, no, Rog, it's bad. "Good" is the OTHER one. You sure having those two sets of twins didn't cause something to short-circuit in that noggin of yours?

It should not come as any sort of surprise that the SJWs of the tennis media immediately held a victory parade.

It would appear that Mr. Djokovic's (quite pretty) wife needs to get him a copy of Vox Day's SJWs Always Lie just as soon as she damned well can get away from changing their son's diapers. If he had the first idea of how to handle the SJWs of ESPN and the rest of the tennis world, a perfectly legitimate debate would be reopened to the greater benefit of the entire tennis world.

The problem for the Narrative is that, if any kind of honest debate were ever held over the question of equal pay between men and women in tennis, the equalitarians would lose.

They wouldn't just lose, actually. They'd be humiliated so badly and so thoroughly that, when schoolchildren of the future need to figure out what "utter crushing defeat" means, they would be able to figure it out just by looking at a picture of any tennis equalitarian. Like Andy Murray. (His picture could be shown right alongside one of the French Army in 1940.)

I don't even play tennis anymore, and I can easily come up with several simple reasons why women absolutely DO NOT deserve to be paid as much as men in professional tennis.

1. The Numbers Just Don't Add Up

It is a well-known and well-understood fact that women's tennis simply does not attract the same number of spectators, or the same number of TV viewers, as men's matches do.

One can come to this conclusion using several different methods of assessment.

The first and most useful is ticket prices. Now ticket prices are, always and everywhere, a function of supply and demand. In any tennis match, there is a physical hard limit set on the number of tickets available- this is obvious, since any tennis stadium has a physically limited number of seats available. Therefore, if the supply of tickets is capped or set at a specific number, the price of those tickets must, by definition, be determined entirely by the demand by the tennis-viewing public for those same tickets.

There is a further distinction to be made. Several venues host both ATP (men's tennis) and WTA (women's tennis) events in parallel- Indian Wells, for instance, does this for the BNP Paribas Open. Many tennis tournaments of this type offer "packages" whereby you can buy a ticket for a block of "sessions" or matches, and you basically just show up and watch whoever is playing at any given time, either male or female.

The Grand Slams, however, are a bit looser about ticketing. And that's where you really see the differences begin to emerge.

The US Open does things in terms of packages, like many of the ATP and WTA pro-circuit events; tickets are offered in "package" terms, rather than for individual matches on individual days. But Wimbledon and Roland Garros operate on a per-match basis from the quarters or semis on up.

And in those tournaments, where there are distinctions between men's and women's matches, from the quarter-finals up, the prices start to diverge. Dramatically.

Here is the list of available ticket prices from Roland Garros for 2016, from the quarters to the semis:


And here is the list of available ticket prices for Wimbledon 2016 for the quarters to the finals on Centre Court:


Notice anything?

Another way of coming to more or less the same conclusion is to look at TV ratings differences between men's and women's tennis.

From Statista.com- a very useful and helpful site which all of you aspiring nerds should bookmark right away- here are two graphs which illustrate the considerable differences between men's and women's tennis viewership numbers:
ATP Tennis Viewership in the USA

WTA Tennis Viewership in the USA
The simple fact of the matter is that men's tennis is more interesting than women's tennis by 2.48 million viewers on average, or about 11.33%.

If we go strictly by TV viewership numbers, this means that male tennis players should, on average, get paid 11% more than their female counterparts.

Don't you just love maths?

There are outliers to these trends, to be sure. There are recent examples of Grand Slam finals- particularly at the US Open- where the women's event actually topped the men's for viewership. However, those tended to be under very special circumstances.

In 2015, Serena Williams was well on her way toward a single-season Grand Slam. She had won the Australian Open, Roland Garros, and Wimbledon in emphatic and dominant fashion, crushing all opposition before her. As a result, when the US Open rolled around, tickets for the women's final sold out faster than the men's one did. (It is worth noting that the same ESPN article also points out that, even given the historic nature of that women's final, there was still a gap between the men's and women's final ticket prices.)

Then Serena got her ass kicked by Roberta Vinci, AKA "some Italian bird that no one has ever heard of". And all of a sudden, ticket prices went into free-fall for the women's final.

(I actually watched the replay of that match when I was back home in September last year. For all of her strength and speed- by female standards, anyway- Serena has absolutely no clue what to do when someone has the ability to return her shots deep to her. She has no footwork moving backwards, very little by way of lateral movement, and virtually no ability to hit the kinds of crazily-angled shots that make Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic such joys to watch.)

The fact is that Novak Djokovic was right. Any halfway honest appraisal of the statistics would reveal that, on the whole, men draw more money, more viewers, and more interest to the sport than women do.

2. Women's Matches Are Boring

Looking back over the past 25 years that I have been involved with tennis in any capacity, I can think of any number of terrific men's matches that I have watched and enjoyed.

I can't even count the number of times that I have watched Roger Federer and Pete Sampras playing on TV. (I even saw them play each other at MSG a few years back- which was, of course, amazing.) The epic battles that Federer has fought over the years, whether in the ATP pro-circuit matches or at the Slams, have always been incredible to watch. Even his most heartbreaking losses, like the one to Juan Martin del Potro at the 2009 US Open, showed incredible displays of jaw-dropping virtuosity on both sides of the court.

And of course, there is the Wimbledon final of 2008, which many argue is the greatest tennis match ever played. That includes people who watched the titanic battle of wits and wills that was the 1980 Wimbledon final between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe.

In the present day, the top 10 men's seeds are all incredible athletes of astonishing skill, fitness, strength, and willpower. I may not particularly like watching Andy Murray or Rafael Nadal play- and I absolutely cannot stand the former- but I greatly respect their athletic abilities.

Now let's see how many great women's matches that I can think of.

Uh...

Umm...

Hey, how about- oh, no, wait, that one was actually only fun because Serena lost...

Need another minute here...

You see what I mean?

With very, very few exceptions, women's tennis just isn't fun to watch. The pace of play is slower. The shots are less technical. The movement is considerably less fluid. And don't even get me started on the goddamn grunting. You cannot even watch a women's tennis match with a proper surround-sound rig anymore, not unless you want your neighbours to be asking you some very uncomfortable questions about just what kind of weird public-fetish porn it is you're watching.

There is very little by way of tactics and strategy to enjoy- if you watch Serena Williams play, her entire style of play essentially revolves around hitting hard and deep, while Maria ShriekaSharapova largely resorts to porn-actress "grunts" and fist-pumps after serving pretty much the same way every single time.

As Alexander Boot pointed out in a classic article from about 5 years back, about the only tennis player that was, shot-for-shot, equal to any man once physical strength was taken out of the equation, was Justine Henin. To that extremely short list, I would add Steffi Graf.

And that's it.

3. Women Cannot Compete With Men One-on-One

Here's a simple question.

If you were to put the World No. 1 female tennis player on the same court as a World No. 1 male player, and had them play a best-of-3-sets match, what would happen?

Unless you're a rabid third-wave feminist, you know the answer. The woman would be destroyed.

I would go so far as to put actual money down on Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, and even Simona Halep being double-bageled by Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer.

If it were Mr. Federer playing, even these days as his once-godlike skills are now somewhat on the decline, I suspect the entire match would be over in about 40 minutes.

If it were Mr. Djokovic playing... well, he's at the absolute peak of his abilities right now. His playing style is so formidably powerful and athletic that I've simply nicknamed him the "Great Wall of Novak". Putting him on a court with Serena Williams would be like putting a starving tiger in the same enclosure as a tethered goat.

Now obviously, given what I've written above, it should be no surprise at all that the top-ranked man would simply beat the stuffing out of the top-ranked woman. The top-ranked men are faster, stronger, leaner, far more athletic, and far more skilled than any woman in tennis.

But what about lesser-ranked and lesser-skilled men against top-ranked women? Surely the top female tennis players in the world would have a very easy time against men ranked below, oh, about 150 in the world?

What matters is that Althea Gibson was never appreciated or feted by black leaders because she refused to play the victim. She never made any money despite being No. 1 in the world, and was never recognized as a great champion, which she was. Today she would have made millions and been elevated to Olympian heights because of her color, but not back then. I remember practicing with her in Rome and Paris and people looking at us curiously. I was among the weakest players on the circuit, she was tops. We made a bet once, with me insisting that no one could watch—to go all out against a woman then seemed awfully unmanly—and I won. Just.
Oh, but it gets better.

Remember a guy named Bobby Riggs? He lost the (in)famous "Battle of the Sexes" with Bille Jean King in 1973- immediately after beating the crap out of the greatest female tennis player ever, Margaret Court. It turns out that there is a distinct possibility that this most famous of male-female tennis matches was, well, "rigged".

Time and again, the top female tennis players have played against male also-rans- and lost. Badly. Embarrassingly badly. Yet this ridiculous myth that female players are somehow equal to men lives on.

4. Equal Pay for Less Work

In most professional-level tournaments, both men and women play best-of-three-set matches. Therefore, at least on the face of it, for most of the year (except during Grand Slam tournaments) men and women spend roughly the same amount of time on court.

Right?

Wrong.

Statistics on the average length of a tennis match vary depending on source and on the tournaments involved. But if you take the average length of time that women spend on tennis courts during matches versus what men spend, even in the best-of-three format, women will spend a good deal less time on the court than men will.

As a result, they will run less, exert less energy, and as such will have lower fitness requirements by far. Not for nothing did 1996 Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek once (very uncharitably but largely truthfully) state that "75 percent of the top 100 women are fat pigs".

The difference becomes even more lopsided once you move to the best-of-five format for men in the Grand Slams. Men spend much longer on the court during Wimbledon finals than women do- roughly 60% more time, actually.

Female players have routinely countered this argument by saying that they would gladly play best-of-five matches to prove that they can compete on a level playing field. But I have heard women claiming this going at least as far back as Lindsey Davenport in 1998. Nothing has ever come of it.

If women were serious about actually earning their equal pay- which any halfway-decent statistical analysis would reveal to be completely unjustified- then they would have instituted best-of-five matches long ago. Instead, they are content to have their cake and eat it too- and men are more than happy to let them get away with it.

On top of these very clear disparities in physical endurance, stamina, athleticism, and time-on-court, we have the fact that men and women react in fundamentally different ways to pressure on the court. Put simply, women crack under pressure in a way that men simply do not:
Women are significantly more likely to hit unforced errors at the most crucial stages of the match, while men exhibit no significant variation in performance. Specifically, about 30% of men’s points end in unforced errors, regardless of their placement in the distribution of the importance variable. For women, about 36% of points in the bottom quartile of the importance distribution end in unforced errors, but unforced errors rise to nearly 40% for points in the top quartile of the importance distribution. What is remarkable is not the difference in the levels (men are more powerful and therefore more likely to hit winners at any stage). The interest lies in the differences in the way men and women respond to increases in competitive pressure.
Is there really any sense anymore in pretending that men and women should be paid the same if they cannot do the same job to the same level of skill?

Making Sense of the Senseless

No matter how one tries, any rational and reasonable look into the question of equal pay in tennis will lead to one very simple answer: male players SHOULD be paid more. This nonsense of equal pay needs to stop, and both Novak Djokovic and former Indian Wells CEO Raymond Moore were correct to bring it into question.

Unfortunately, the white knights and useful idiots of the tennis media- and not a few of the male players themselves, including feminist crybaby and perennially annoying superbrat Andy Murray- insist against all evidence, logic, reason, and simple common goddamn sense that equal pay is Right and Good and Therefore Must Be The Law.

The likely result of this equalitarian nonsense is pretty much the same no matter where it happens: declining interest and participation, followed by stagnation and eventual collapse. This delusion of equality is downright dangerous, and it is well past time that we stopped giving it sustenance in the form of our time and money.

Stop watching women's tennis- with one rather talented and thoroughly likable exception, of course. You'll be doing yourself and the game a considerable favour.

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