Back in February, Surfing Magazine interviewed pro surfer Coco Ho about an ongoing discussion in the surf world – should female pro surfers receive the same prize money as the guys?
The 25-year-old Hawaiian is one of the world’s top female surfers with a WCT RipCirl Search Championship under her belt. But she’s definitely ruffled some feathers with her opinion on the matter.
We’re doing pretty well as female surfers – I don’t think we deserve more [prize money] yet…
“We’re doing pretty well as female surfers — I don’t think we deserve more yet. The feminists are going to kill me, but all I’m saying is, right now, we don’t deserve as much as the guys,” she said.
“In some jobs, women totally deserve as much because they’re doing the same work. We’re doing the same job as guys but at a different level.
“Our competitive level is slowly getting where it needs to be and the prize money is following. We don’t need to be out there petitioning and fighting because it’s already happening.”
We’re A Long Way From 2005…
The women’s surfing pro series has come a long way in the last few years. Back in 2005, pro surfer Layne Beachley was attacked by male surfers (including the late Andy Irons) for entering the Australian Open Of Surfing.
The prize money for women’s World Tour surf competitions has now been risen from $15,000 to $60,000, a truly huge jump. Even with such advancement, there are still no surfing comps out there offering equal prize money to both men and women.
There’s a number of issues here – from the difference in the cost of putting on a men’s surfing competition compared to a women’s, the level of skills, the number of events and even the differing support from sponsors.
However, when it comes down to it, it’s not a question of money or product. It’s simply a question of having the same expectations of equality in sport as we do in other areas of everyday life.
Women, just like men, are surfing to their highest level. Prize money needs to also be brought to the same level…
Women, just like men, are surfing to their highest level. They surf the same conditions, they put in the same amount of hours and the same amount of themselves. The money needs to be brought to the same level also.
In female competitions, the prize money is not the goal and female surfers make way more from campaigns and endorsements.
Equality in prize money would increase professionalism and legitimise all women who want to make a career out of sport- and that’s something we should all be championing.
Surfing, although still seriously unbalanced, is still nowhere near the biggest pay gap in sport.
Female footballers in the English Premier League can expect no reward whatsoever, while their male counterparts walk away with £24m for a major competitive win.
Does Coco’s Statement Represent The Majority?
So, Coco Ho’s statement shouldn’t be taken as a statement against the support of women’s surfing – nor disregarded as a naïve throwaway comment. It should be questioned in a wider sense.
This is a great and progressive time to be a woman in surfing and sport generally. Coco and her contemporaries are surfing in a very different world than the one they would have found themselves in 30 years ago.
All female athletes need to recognise the battle waged by the women of sport in the past to make equality a reality…
They might be seeing the prize money slowly making its way upwards and the gap closing. That’s great. All female athletes of this new generation, however, need to recognise the battle waged by the women of sport in the past to make that a reality.
The progress already made was not a natural development. It was fought for by women they grew up admiring.
Now Coco has joined the ranks of those inspirational women, it’s in her hands to push forward with the fight to wipe out gender inequality and make sure the future is even brighter for the next generation of girls whose eyes are now on her.