Each year, Forbes publishes a list of the 100 highest-paid athletes in the world, which tallies up the prize money, salaries, and bonuses that pro-athletes earn over the course of a year, beginning and ending on June 1. Yesterday, the 2018 list was published, and for the first time since 2010, there is not one woman on the entire 100-person list. Let that sink in.
This year, the highest-paid athlete on the list is Floyd Mayweather, a boxer who has been accused of violence against women multiple times. All it took for Mayweather to cinch his place at the top was one fight against Conor McGregor last March, which he earned $275 million for winning. After Mayweather, there are soccer players Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, followed by McGregor, and another soccer player, Neymar. Some other big names that you may recognize from the list are LeBron James, Roger Federer, and Stephen Curry, who all ranked within the top 10.
So, what gives? According to Forbes, the reason why you don't see any women on this list is because Serena Williams was "sidelined almost the entire 12 months due to pregnancy and giving birth to her daughter, Alexis," and therefore not able to make any prize money. (As if this financial penalty wasn't enough, this year Williams was not given protected seeding after taking time off to recover from her traumatic childbirth experience.) But considering last year Williams was the only woman on the list and ranked number 51, clearly this is a bigger issue.
As many people on Twitter were quick to point out, this list shines a light on gender parity in sports. One sports writer called the list "a damning indictment of the enormous disparity between men/women's sport." Someone else said the list "represents the disparity in pay between male and female athletes NOT the quality of female athletes and their sporting achievements."
Pay has been a hot topic for women athletes lately. Over the past year, lots of women in pro sports have spoken up about getting equal pay for equal play, including the USA Women's Hockey Team. In March of 2017, the national team boycotted an international competition until USA Hockey addressed their salary negotiations. The players demanded the same salary and benefits as their male counterparts, and they got them.
While that was a historic moment for women athletes, there's still so much work that needs to be done. "It's been a very exciting year with the support battle we went through in the spring, but now we're just amplifying our voices and continuing to inspire the next generation with what we’ve accomplished thus far," Hilary Knight, Team USA forward told Refinery29 in March. "We're continuing to push the boundaries further and make a better world for the next generation that's coming up."
Who knows? Maybe this glaring representation of the pay gap in sports will make people more aware of the unfair gender disparity that exists within all industries.