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The crusty old codgers who run the Wimbledon tennis tournament have been criticized in recent weeks because they don't pay the women players as much as the men.

It's the only Grand Slam event that doesn't have equal pay for both genders. It's always been that way, and as far as the tradition-rich All England Club is concerned, the critics can take a hike.

Those stubborn Brits. It's outrageous what they're doing. And I think they're absolutely right.

The men and women should not be paid equally at Wimbledon. Matter of fact, I could argue that they're paying the women too much.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a big fan of women's sports (as is my "Play Ball" colleague Collin Hansen), and I even have a friend on the women's pro tennis tour.

And I'm all for equal pay for both genders—that is, as long as it's for equal work.

But it's not "equal work" at Wimbledon. The men play best 3-out-of-5 sets, and it's not unusual for their matches to last more than four hours. (One men's doubles match this year lasted six hours!) The women, meanwhile, play best 2-out-of-3 sets, and their matches rarely last more than two hours.

To me, it's that simple. Less time on the job, less pay.

Think of it this way: Suppose your place of work adopted a new policy, with a 9-to-5 workday for men and a 9-to-2 workday for women. Men work an eight-hour day, women five. But equal pay all around.

You think the guys might be a bit miffed? Me, too.

John McEnroe is also miffed—but not for the same reasons I am. Perhaps he just wants another excuse to argue with Wimbledon officials, but this summer, Mac has loudly called for equal pay for women. (Why didn't he say that back in his playing days, when the salary gap between the genders was much larger?)

Years ago at a ...

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July 2006

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