OPINION:Is it going to take the sky to fall? A meteorite to hit? An apocalypse to happen, for people to realise that pay parity in sport isn't a gender issue.
The last time I checked, if you're a CEO and you're hiring someone for a high-paying role with the intention of improving an area of your business, you don't hire based on gender.
You hire based on whatever applicant possesses the best skills required to do the job at a high level and whatever applicant is going to bring in the most business or in turn create new business. What boss is going to hire an incompetent male over a qualified female? If they did, then well it's their funeral I guess.
Which brings me to my point, the fact that I've just about had enough of people claiming that the pay differences between genders in sport is solely down to female vs male.
Pay parity in sport should be, if it isn't already, solely based from a commercial and quality of product viewpoint. You wouldn't pay Gordon Ramsay the same amount as the local Fish 'n' Chip shop owner to cook your dinner, would you? Why? Because the quality of product is totally different. So why should women's rugby get paid the same amount as mens?
There are a lot of drums beating in NZ Rugby now about how the women's game should receive more funding, players should be fully-paid professionals, women deserve their own professional competition and so on and so forth.
Firstly, NZ Rugby is a business, not a charity. To my knowledge businesses aren't in the habit of investing money in areas that aren't viable. The fact remains that women's rugby is not appealing to most of the sporting audience. Sugar coat it, dance around the subject, blow the trumpet do whatever you like but people just genuinely aren't interested in it.
Reasons being, overall the skill level is far lower, the collision area is relatively non-existent and the slower pace of the game which results in less entertainment. I understand that the likes of Portia Woodman are great athletes, but I'm talking about the majority here.
I read a piece last year from former Black Fern Melodie Robinson telling the NZRU to have a look across the pond at the Women's AFL league to show that concept does work.
"On average 6000 people turned up to the women's AFL Games".
Australia has a population of 24 million. Let's refrain from comparing apples with oranges. I feel as though people are on the womens bandwagon because it feels like the right thing to do, when in fact what may seem like the right thing to do, will end up being to the detriment of NZ Rugby.
People need to realize that the NZRU is in a difficult position. It's World Cup year next year, which means players are likely to be looking to the riches of Europe after that. The NZRU has competed remarkably well with the foreign market by implementing things such as the sabbatical and extended leave for certain players.
I'm always confident in the NZRU being able to keep the Sam Canes, the Beauden Barretts, the Brodie Retallicks of this world because that's vital and they can afford to open the shoulders and pay more for those blokes and rightly so. Every business must have a good shop window. Where I worry with NZ Rugby is the storeroom of said shop.
Just about every second week we see a fringe All Black or a second tier player sign offshore for the riches of Europe and we can't blame them simply because NZ Rugby can't afford to pay close to what these players can earn in there.
So why should NZ Rugby invest in something like the women's game, for little or no return, whilst the depth of NZ Rugby is saying Au Revoir? Would that money be better off spent keeping such talent in NZ Rugby? Would that money be better off going towards solving the post high school drop in numbers situation? Would that money be better off fighting the war on League? I think so.
Lastly, I know it's 2018 and the PC brigade are out in full force. But refrain from the coating in sugar, cut the trumpet blowing and stop dancing around it because you know as well as I do that women rugby players in NZ shouldn't be on the same level as men.
To me it seems wrong to give money that others earn to an area of the game where revenue is scarce. Focus on the shop window, focus on the storeroom, focus on the teams and competitions that put NZ on the map…whatever you do, don't open the shop doors and let the foreign legion enjoy a discount sale.
- Sam "Lashes" Casey is The Country's social media guru and part of the on-air team. Catch him on The Country weekdays 12-1.