One of McDonald’s biggest prizes in their annual Monopoly contest, inspired by the Hasbro board game, is a chance to meet one of four superstar athletes, including LeBron James, Jamie McMurray, Patrick Kane and Alex Morgan.
James is a 29-year-old four-time NBA MVP. McMurray is an accomplished NASCAR driver. Kane is one of hockey’s brightest stars with two Stanley Cups under his belt. Morgan is an Olympic gold medalist, representing the United States women’s national soccer team.
Each athlete’s status as an elite performer merits a high salary to live comfortably. James is at the top, earning slightly above $20 million in 2014 from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kane and McMurray make $6.5 million and $5.7 million, respectively. Then there is American heroine, Morgan, collecting $70 thousand this year. To put those numbers in perspective, the male athletes average roughly 47 times more per year than the soccer star.
There are a number of reasons why this is the case. James is a dominant force in a popular sport that is viewed by millions around the world and for that, he is paid fairly. Kane and McMurray are also no slouches in their respective sports which garner television ratings. Then there is Morgan, who plays a sport that is relevant during only the Olympics and the women’s World Cup. The latter tournament follows the former one year later but both only occur once every four years.
The average sports fan might not even know she plays for the Portland Thorns Football Club of the National Women’s Soccer League. The average capacity of each stadium in this league is 10,395 and the average attendance is 4,137 which fills close to 40 percent of the venue. These games are rarely televised so the market for watching these contests are as low as can be.
Teams can not afford to pay their players top dollar when the product they produce is not in high demand.
Morgan first came into the national spotlight in 2011 when she became the youngest player to represent the red, white and blue in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Her next notable event was the 2012 London Olympics when she helped the United States power through the competition for a gold medal. Most people knows about her international accomplishments but are likely to know almost nothing about her club performances.
The next women’s World Cup will be played in 2015 with the Rio 2016 Olympics taking place after. This marks a six-year cycle in which Morgan and her fellow teammates compete in a major event just four times. There seems to be excitement in the air across the whole globe during these two competitions but the sport fails to remain relevant when it is not an international battle.
The low salary is not just attributed to the fact that she is a woman either. There are plenty of females in the sports world that are earning top dollar for their athletic achievements without the help of sponsorships and endorsements.
According to Forbes.com, tennis pro Serena Williams raked in $11 million in prize money this year. The No. 2 ranked player, Maria Sharapova, took home $2.4 million in a season where she was mostly injured and played only one match in the second half of 2013.
Moving onto a different sport, golfer Paula Creamer collected $1 million, thanks to winning the HSBC Women’s Champions tournament which rewarded her with $210,000 for that victory alone.
No. 28 ranked Danica Patrick of NASCAR earned $7 million, which places her near the top for female athletes in salary alone.
Athletes of all genders are compensated fairly for their services. In 2013, the women’s U.S. Open tennis tournament final scored a 4.9 television rating, which ended up being higher than the men’s final of 2.8, proving that people do watch these matches.
They just have to play a sport that is viewed by many, because let’s not forget that these athletes also double as entertainers.