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Mike Whan's Take on Purse Equality for LPGA/PGA Tours


LPGA Tour Purse Equity  

38 members have voted

  1. 1. Complete this sentence: We will see five or more LPGA events with purses as large as equivalent PGA Tour events within the next…

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    • 25+ Years
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I think the LPGA would be WAY better off if Michelle Wie had accomplished on the LPGA Tour even half of what Tiger accomplished on the PGA Tour.

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I’m just going to echo the others at this point. The ratings aren’t there, the interest isn’t there, therefore the money isn’t there. The only way I see LPGA Tour events having the same purse has PGA

I'm not sure if comparing tennis purses to golf for the majors is a one to one equivalence, in tennis, both men and women play the same event at the same time at the majors, the Australian, French, Wi

So true, unfortunately. It’s not fair to label someone as sexist just because they find a sport more entertaining based on talent. I find women’s gymnastics in the olympics way more entertaining than

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I voted 20 years. I am just thinking in terms of social shift, if ESPN gives way more screen time to women's sports. I can see it happening at some point if the conditions are right. 

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On 1/23/2021 at 5:14 PM, iacas said:

The point is made that the men have a 100-year head start, and thus some of the issue is the lack of exposure.

I don't think it's even the majority issue, but it is an issue. Some people seem to think it's entirely the issue - that the women haven't had the exposure, and if they were given it, they'd be just as valuable as the men in short order.

Yeah this is really the key point. Not only is there a 100 year head start, but the women also face a generally sexist society and specifically a super sexist entertainment industry. The LPGA players aren't getting any help trying to overcome those handicaps. They've never gotten more than a tiny percent of the promotion the men get, so we have no idea what the "real" ratio in popularity is.

I wasn't able to find any average ratings data. But for comparisoin, in the tennis U.S. Open finals women outrated men in 2019 (4m vs 2.75m) and in 2020 (2.15m vs 1.48m). You can make the exact same complaints about women's tennis that people use to justify not having to worry about the low purses and popularity of the LPGA. In both sports the women play a significantly slower and less powerful game.

Just to take a single example, I was rooting for Finau and was really interested in the AmEx last Sunday. But the women's ToC was easily the better Sunday.

On 1/23/2021 at 5:34 PM, iacas said:

I think the LPGA would be WAY better off if Michelle Wie had accomplished on the LPGA Tour even half of what Tiger accomplished on the PGA Tour.

A transcendent star would surely help the LPGA. But then most people would probably cite it as proof that the women's field was too thin and it not being worth watching 🤨

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3 hours ago, mdl said:

Yeah this is really the key point.

Look, I don't disagree that the 100-year-head start is not a factor. But I don't know that it's the predominant factor, and I don't think it will change enough within five years to see women playing five+ comparable events with equal sized purses.

There's no way to quantify this stuff, but I think:

  • even with equal coverage, fewer people would want to see the LPGA Tour.
  • you can't currently justify equal coverage, because of the history and the first bullet point.

The Williams sisters make tennis compelling. The LPGA Tour doesn't have anything close to the Williams sisters.

3 hours ago, mdl said:

I wasn't able to find any average ratings data🤨data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw==

It's not super comparable anyway as the men's event(s) are generally on at better times and on networks on the weekend. But the women are pretty far behind.

Look at the OP. That's for a women's major, same channel, against a pretty lousy PGA Tour "off" season event.

3 hours ago, mdl said:

Just to take a single example, I was rooting for Finau and was really interested in the AmEx last Sunday. But the women's ToC was easily the better Sunday.

Did you watch the ToC? It was horribly broadcast. Really, really bad.


My point in all of this is NOT that I don't think the women are worth watching (hashtag aside). I watch slightly more women's golf than men's golf. My daughter, however, has zero interest. When she watches, she'll watch the guys. She couldn't care less about the women.

My point is that, due to a bunch of factors (but maybe those two above mostly), I don't think we'll get as close as Mike Whan seems to think we will within the next five years.

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On 1/26/2021 at 5:45 PM, iacas said:

It's not super comparable anyway as the men's event(s) are generally on at better times and on networks on the weekend.

This is my point. The women in tennis are treated as first class citizens. And they outdraw the men audience-wise at some major events and are close generally. And you can't wave your hands and just say "Williams' sisters" :-)  The women had Annika, with almost as many wins as Tiger (72 + 19 in Europe), 10 majors, and the length and skill to tee it up with the men a few times and not be embarrassed. And that was in just 16 years. And she's pretty. Yet she got ~zero exposure except for the men's events.

I'm not pretending I know that with even broadcasting and promotion and marketing and investment and the like that the women would be as or nearly as popular as the men (like in tennis). It's possible people would never be entertained by a slightly slower game like they are in women's tennis.

All I'm noting is that there are many posts in this thread with a condescending tone noting it's all explained by lack of popularity of the LPGA and just plain economics.* That confidence is based in unexamined privilege, not an actual argument. One shouldn't feel superior about an argument that takes the effect (LPGA is not popular, thus not a big revenue generator) and simply assert this is a natural state that can't be changed and isn't worthy of interrogation. Especially when there's millenia of history and a society full of causes that don't boil down to women are just naturally not worth watching. And when the one natural cause so confidently pointed to as the only needed piece of evidence (that a slower, less powerful women's version of the game can never be very popular) seems to cause the very opposite (women's game is at least nearly as popular) in the only other individual sport that makes money.

*I'm not talking about you. You noted we can't quantify and labeled as a belief that women's golf wouldn't be as popular with even coverage and the like.

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17 minutes ago, mdl said:

This is my point. The women in tennis are treated as first class citizens.

FOUR times a year. And it's tennis - they can play the same courts at the same time.

17 minutes ago, mdl said:

And they outdraw the men audience-wise at some major events and are close generally.

Sure.

17 minutes ago, mdl said:

The women had Annika

Not an American. Very dull personality.

17 minutes ago, mdl said:

I'm not pretending I know that with even broadcasting and promotion and marketing and investment and the like that the women would be as or nearly as popular as the men (like in tennis). It's possible people would never be entertained by a slightly slower game like they are in women's tennis.

Possible? I'm going with "likely."

And again, I watch more women's golf than men's golf, particularly when Tiger's not playing. But… I'm not the typical golf watcher.

17 minutes ago, mdl said:

All I'm noting is that there are many posts in this thread with a condescending tone noting it's all explained by lack of popularity of the LPGA and just plain economics.*

I appreciate the asterisk, but I will say what I've said before: any "tone" you read into written text is your own addition.

17 minutes ago, mdl said:

That confidence is based in unexamined privilege, not an actual argument.

I don't know that I agree with that.

Women's sports generally don't perform well. The highest rated WNBA finals had 570,000 people watching it, the lowest rated men's finals had 5.94 million. That's quite a gap.

17 minutes ago, mdl said:

One shouldn't feel superior about an argument that takes the effect (LPGA is not popular, thus not a big revenue generator) and simply assert this is a natural state that can't be changed and isn't worthy of interrogation.

Is anyone actually taking that side?

I think we'll be there within 20 years for five+ events. I just don't think we'll be there within about five or so, like Mike Whan (it seems) may feel like we will.

17 minutes ago, mdl said:

Especially when there's millenia of history and a society full of causes that don't boil down to women are just naturally not worth watching. And when the one natural cause so confidently pointed to as the only needed piece of evidence (that a slower, less powerful women's version of the game can never be very popular) seems to cause the very opposite (women's game is at least nearly as popular) in the only other individual sport that makes money.

Golf isn't tennis.

Ariya Jutanagarn is not Venus Williams, nor are either of the Korda sisters.

This is why I had hoped Michelle Wie could have kicked ass. She has the Korean ancestry, but is an American. She's attractive, and personable, and was a very good player.

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  • 4 weeks later...
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I don't get it.

You can't compare women's golf to women's tennis. Not at all.

I'm hopeful that some day the LPGA Tour can have larger purses. Mike Whan did a good job. But I don't know that it's going to happen any time soon.

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1 hour ago, David in FL said:

25+ years, because there was no specific option for never.

The economics talked about in the OP are the reason...

Same here, but I didn’t vote at all because never is not an option. 

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1 minute ago, CarlSpackler said:

Same here, but I didn’t vote at all because never is not an option. 

25+ is equivalent to never. The + is basically "infinity."

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7 hours ago, iacas said:

25+ is equivalent to never. The + is basically "infinity."

Then 25+ it is. I don’t see it happening. 

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9 hours ago, jmanbooyaa said:

What would warrant this idea of an equal purse? 

Marketing by the public face of the LPGA.  If he's not going to push for better purses for the players on his tour, he's not doing his job.

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Good thread. Like most here, my first instinct is to lean on the free-market idea that purses are driven by popularity, advertising...and there's certainly validity there.

But we all know that things aren't that linear. For example, in many forms of entertainment popularity is often manufactured by investments in advertising, promotions, etc. which in turn start the engine, drive up popularity, generate more income to spend, etc.

I think there's an argument to make that increasing purses (or even matching) for some events could generate good "equality" publicity, draw more talent to the game over time, and thus start the engine. Another poster above mentioned something similar in that you don't need to wait around for popularity. I agree.

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3 minutes ago, chspeed said:

Good thread. Like most here, my first instinct is to lean on the free-market idea that purses are driven by popularity, advertising...and there's certainly validity there.

But we all know that things aren't that linear. For example, in many forms of entertainment popularity is often manufactured by investments in advertising, promotions, etc. which in turn start the engine, drive up popularity, generate more income to spend, etc.

I think there's an argument to make that increasing purses (or even matching) for some events could generate good "equality" publicity, draw more talent to the game over time, and thus start the engine. Another poster above mentioned something similar in that you don't need to wait around for popularity. I agree.

Please tell me how some company justifies losing money so the LPGA Tour players can benefit in the future?

If the LPGA Tour isn’t willing to do this for themselves why should a sponsor or something?

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8 minutes ago, chspeed said:

Good thread. Like most here, my first instinct is to lean on the free-market idea that purses are driven by popularity, advertising...and there's certainly validity there.

But we all know that things aren't that linear. For example, in many forms of entertainment popularity is often manufactured by investments in advertising, promotions, etc. which in turn start the engine, drive up popularity, generate more income to spend, etc.

I think there's an argument to make that increasing purses (or even matching) for some events could generate good "equality" publicity, draw more talent to the game over time, and thus start the engine. Another poster above mentioned something similar in that you don't need to wait around for popularity. I agree.

So, which companies should take the loss in order to further some altruistic goal? 

What if in taking said loss, they now have to lay off some employees? Is that altruistic? 

Should folks who are working regular jobs be put out of work just to fund a future sport which may or may not ever gain the popularity required to payback?

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1 minute ago, iacas said:

Please tell me how some company justifies losing money so the LPGA Tour players can benefit in the future?

If the LPGA Tour isn’t willing to do this for themselves why should a sponsor or something?

I doubt the LPGA has the cash to do this. I think it's very hard, but not impossible. Maybe you can convince the USGA (for their events) to split the purses fairly (or at least give more to women's events than they get now). It's a matter of getting the ball rolling. I'm sure that the LPGA has been trying to figure this out for years.

My point is that purse matching is not a one-way street.

2 minutes ago, ChetlovesMer said:

So, which companies should take the loss in order to further some altruistic goal?

Why does it have to be altruistic? The point is to drive up popularity so that your publicity and sponsorship increases the value of your brand.

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25 minutes ago, chspeed said:

Why does it have to be altruistic? The point is to drive up popularity so that your publicity and sponsorship increases the value of your brand.

It would be altruistic because the company that sponsors this would be losing money. 

2 things a lot of people don't understand about companies who sponsor events. 

1 - The company sponsoring the event knows if they are getting ROI or not. 

2 - Companies don't have a pile of money sitting in the corner to ride out decisions that don't create ROI. 

 

I work closely with 2 companies who have or had sponsored NASCAR. Both of them know exactly how much ROI they are getting on their sponsorship. 1 of them continued to sponsor NASCAR even after having to have lay-offs. People screamed "How can you still sponsor NASCAR when you can't even afford to keep all of you employees?!?!" The company had performed the calculations and realized that their NASCAR sponsorship is/was cash positive for them. That means they were getting more revenue from their sponsorship than they were spending. Today, they are doing great and still sponsoring NASCAR. 

The other company dropped their NASCAR sponsorship because even though the company was financially in the black. The sponsorship of NASCAR was net negative. 

 

To your point; YES, A company COULD sponsor the LPGA and hope for a ROI down the road. But why? Why lose money? Especially when their are so many options out there for sponsorship where the ROI is much quicker.... like... for example.... THE PGA tour. 

The better option is to sponsor the LPGA at a much lower value and get your ROI right now. But then people complain because that sponsorship at that appropriate value creates what's seen as an "unfair pay scale". 

Imagine if it wasn't a male/female thing. Imagine if it was a completely different sport. What if was Americans and Japanese Ping Pong Players? In Japan a ping pong player can make $30,000 for a single match. In the US there have been like 50 leagues started and collapsed in the last 20 years. If American Ping Pong Players demanded to be paid like their Japanese counterparts everyone would say they are crazy. There just isn't enough sponsorship dollars. 

Why do you think every major sport links salary cap numbers to league revenue?  

 

 

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