Well you work to earn a living, but on weekends comes the time
September 4, 2016 2:25 AM   Subscribe

Next year, the Australian Football League will debut its first women's league, with eight clubs fielding teams over eight weeks of televised competition in February and March. On Saturday night, an all-star women's exhibition game was shown live in prime time, drawing more than a million viewers at its peak (yes that's a lot in Australia). In footy-mad Melbourne, it had more viewers than any men’s AFL game in that slot so far this year. And yet the league wants to pay many of the female players just $5,000 for the inaugural season.

The top two players in each term will earn a maximum of $25,000. The average male player earns $300,000 for their 22-week season — more than an entire female team will make collectively — and the best more than $1 million. Female players will also have to pay for their own private health insurance.

A league honcho described the rate as “a fair and reasonable amount in the first year of building an elite competition from amateur leagues,” though the AFL players’ union is still negotiating the exact salary.

Sports journalist Erin Riley broke down why "the league's new and not profitable yet" is a shoddy argument for such low wages — and was immediately inundated with responses from hundreds of men “explaining” that she doesn't know what she's talking about. She handled it admirably.

You can watch the highlights of the all-star match here or in its entirety across 1, 2, 3, 4 quarters.
posted by retrograde (14 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Example #1467 of why the SBS is awesome: Women’s AFL Team Hopes To One Day Earn As Much As A Single Male Player
posted by langtonsant at 3:14 AM on September 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

Also fuck you Gil McLachlan. Women's footy is more than just a PR exercise. If you want me to get off my fat lazy arse and make my way out to Homebush to watch GWS play Sydney next weekend (as if any ex-Adelaidean gives a damn) then you need to convince my three year old daughter that she should give a shit about the game. Aggressive little thing that she is, she'd totally be up for that, but only if you can convince her that she too will one day have the chance to take a speccy in front of 100,000 people on that one day in September. Unfortunately for you, my daughter is not a fucking idiot, and she expects to be paid.
posted by langtonsant at 3:29 AM on September 4, 2016 [8 favorites]

I have no interest in watching or supporting regular AFL, but I am really excited about the women's league - and they need to be given a starting salary that's at least a living wage. And pay for their damn health insurance.
posted by crossoverman at 4:25 AM on September 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

I drove past Whitten Oval on my way home on Saturday evening and once i worked out that it was a women's game i could not have been more excited (dead serious) to have to find a different route home because the place was choked up with traffic and an MCG level volume of pedestrians. And that's only a small amount of hyperbole... there was a huge queue of cars to get off Geelong Road onto Gordon Street and that was mainly because of the cars waiting to turn left being held up by foot traffic.

More please!
posted by prettypretty at 5:55 AM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Denying your atheletes health care as part of their employment package is just barbaric. They're thrashing their bodies for your entertainment, they should be cared for accordingly.
posted by Jilder at 7:38 AM on September 4, 2016 [6 favorites]

The boys at the local school don't want to play footy with 11-year-old little ms. flabdablet, mainly because her judgement, running, marking and scoring skills make them all look incompetent by comparison.

Watching developments with keen interest.
posted by flabdablet at 11:43 AM on September 4, 2016 [5 favorites]

Inaugural is the key word there.

It is all a crap-shoot at this point and there is a lot of money needed to start the business.

ONCE and IF the league kicks off and IF it continues to generate income then the players who generate that income will be compensated accordingly.
posted by 2manyusernames at 6:12 PM on September 4, 2016

2manyusernames: "ONCE and IF the league kicks off and IF it continues to generate income then the players who generate that income will be compensated accordingly."

I think this argument is a little unfair - after all, if the compensation of players were to be tied to the ability of their team to draw a crowd, then the male players at GWS and Gold Coast would be taking one hell of a pay cut. The AFL is perfectly willing to subsidise male teams for the broader good of the sport, so why can't they do the same thing with the women's league? They've spent many years trying to rebrand football games as a family friendly affair because they know that there's a lot of money to be made off getting women to attend the men's games. If they want women to really believe that they're welcome in the broader AFL community, they should bloody well pay their female athletes.
posted by langtonsant at 6:42 PM on September 4, 2016 [4 favorites]

It is all a crap-shoot at this point and there is a lot of money needed to start the business.

The AFL and its clubs are already very, very wealthy and successful businesses. The people running this league will still be paid very well. The coaches will be paid appropriately, the medical staff will be paid appropriately, the umpires will be paid appropriately, the people selling hot pies will be paid appropriately.

If the AFL and clubs are taking a financial risk by starting this new venture, then that is on the AFL and the clubs. You wouldn't start a new bar and then expect your staff to work for below minimum wage because starting a new bar is risky and expensive. And you couldn't get away with it, because the bartenders can and will go elsewhere.

In this case, they know the women will work for peanuts because they're very invested in this league succeeding and they don't have any other choice. It's like people who start media outlets and expect the writers to work for free or next-to-free because they're new — they do it because they can get away with it due to the number of writers desperate for work (and they don't ask their accountant or the person who cleans their offices to do the same). But that doesn't make it less of a shitty thing to do.
posted by retrograde at 6:52 PM on September 4, 2016 [5 favorites]

flabdablet that makes me sad to hear. I was the only girl on my team (and I think in my whole club) when I played under-10s or under-11s about 20 years ago, but the boys were all totally fine with it (maybe because I wasn't very good, but one of the few other girls in the local league was also one of the best players, and they all thought she was great).

But they didn't allow girls to play with boys after around 11 or 12, and there was no girls team and I wasn't allowed to play on my primary school team either (to add insult to injury, the school made me play netball, in a skirt), so I had to stop.

Whenever I'm back in Oz, I feel like I see lots of little girls in Auskick singlets, but sounds like there's still a long way to go.
posted by retrograde at 7:05 PM on September 4, 2016

The idea that the AFL will out of the goodness of its heart start paying women more once it truly believes in its heart that they are worth it is just so ridiculously naiive. Anyone voicing it is invited to come work for me. The pay is terrible to start but once I've established a market for your services it'll probably improve. I mean, that would only be fair, right?

What's that? No, of course there's no contract entitling you to a strictly defined amount of the money I make once things get going. Just trust me.
posted by No-sword at 9:40 PM on September 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

The AFL is a for profit organisation, it is not a charitable organisation. It is spending a lot of money on a womens competition, money it will never get back. The players are not and are not expected to be professionals, they are paid at about the amount VFL and WAFL players get, for a similar performance expectation and commitment, and for likely similar audiences. It's easy to go boo hiss, but this is easy criticism that has no relationship to reality of the game.
posted by wilful at 5:15 PM on September 5, 2016

I also expect the women will have full access to club physios and doctors.
posted by wilful at 5:17 PM on September 5, 2016

"I also expect the women will have full access to club physios and doctors."
Why would you wish that on them too? They're already being treated shittily…
posted by Pinback at 7:33 PM on September 5, 2016

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