The Ladies Game

by Anne Kramer

With the soon the be released ladies rankings for North America Professional Darts Alliance, I thought it would be a good time to have some discussion about the ladies game.

I was recently listening to the sports news on the television and it was noted that 40 years ago this year, Title IX Education Amendments of 1972 was passed in the US, which was an effort to guarantee equal pay to women for doing the same jobs as men. The story went on to mention how it also affected women in sports and equal pay for equal play.
Policy interpretation articulated three ways for compliance with Title IX could be achieved. This became known as the "three-part test" for compliance. A recipient of federal funds can demonstrate compliance with Title IX by meeting any one of the three prongs. We all know that darts is not a federally funded program, but I thought the points for the compliance was an interesting commentary.

The three ways of compliance are as follows:
  • All such assistance should be available on a substantially proportional basis to the number of male and female participants in the institution's athletic program.
  • Male and female athletes should receive equivalent treatment, benefits, and opportunities" regarding facilities.
  • The athletic interests and abilities of male and female students must be equally effectively accommodated.

There has been a debate about ladies payouts that has been going around and around for years. In days gone by, at an event called the Santa Monica Open in the mid 70's, the discrepancies in the payouts were noted and as a result, the lady players picketed outside the event to protest not having an equal payout as the men.
Fast-forward to today and the conversation remains the same. I recently spoke to a tournament director for one of the biggest tournaments in the US. It was mentioned to me that year after year, the ladies would lament the fact that the payouts were much less than the men's payouts. So, to take the steps to help encourage the ladies, the payouts were increased every year.
Much to the dismay of the tournament directors, every year the payouts increased, participation decreased. Regardless of the excuses, this was a very strong and valid point where the women's voices were heard, responded to, and then the women did not make the efforts to support this change made for them.
If it cannot be done with one of the most popular and prestigious tournaments in the country, what makes women think that any of the other smaller tournaments are going to step up and do the same? I saw the stats and it was a very telling story that could not be disputed.

In news from across the pond, back in January, the ladies shamed the top brass and the BBC in getting the ladies final at Lakeside televised. Their voices were heard and it's been noted that since then they have seen considerable increases from the BDO in prize funds for the ladies. These same ladies have taken things into their own hands with the creation of the Ladies Darts Organization and hosting of the Ladies Darts Classic, which is run by the ladies, for the ladies and offers 1000 pound to the winner.

The US has it's own, in the formation of the Atlantis Darts Club located on the east coast. This club is making the effort to provide the ladies their own events and payouts.

"Established in New York City in 2009 as an independent entity, the Atlantis Dart Club (ADC) is committed to support and promote the on-going growth of women dart players nationally and internationally. For several reasons women dart players have had to compete in Men's leagues in New York City and other areas maintaining a respectable win percentage against players of both genders. Their presence at these events has gained much acceptance from the venues, men competitors and coverage from the dart covering media. The need for an organization to sponsor, support and promote primarily women's events was important to them and other women players that compete regularly in leagues and tournaments. Thus, the foundation of ADC was formed."

It is an unfortunate thing that there is no equal pay for equal play, but in all honesty, there is just not the same amount of numbers for the lady players as there are for the men. And until sponsors can be found to guarantee the money paid out, it's very difficult to expect small associations and leagues to put forth the money to increase the payouts with no guarantee that the players will turn up in the numbers needed to support the event.
Anyone can review the results from previous tournaments and note that in a majority of events, the ladies singles entries are mostly 50percent or less of what the men's entries are. To point out one in particular, the 2012 Rae Chesney Memorial Pennsylvania Open, one of the largest and longest running tournaments in the US posted 131 entries for the Men's 501 Singles and 223 entries for the Men's Cricket Singles to be followed up with 36 entries in the Ladies 501 Singles and 48 entries in the Ladies Cricket Singles.

With tournaments of this size and ability to put forth a larger prize fund, one would think that the ladies would be more encouraged to attend, however, the numbers are just not there. I welcome all the ladies to take a moment and review the results in BullsEye News. Look at the turnout. Look at the lack of support for these ladies events.

We all lament these things and wonder where the answers to these age olds questions are. It is obvious that the ladies are unhappy with the lower payouts in the 70's, 80's 90's and today. But in turn, there is the question of "would the ladies be happier paying an entry fee double to that of the men to have that equal payout?"
Where does the money come from?
Why should we expect the leagues to foot the bill for the higher payouts?
What can the ladies do to change this?

This age old question is up to the ladies to decide.

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