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Bruce Dowbiggin

The Equity Paradox: Why Don’t Women Support Women’s Sports?


8 minute read

It’s fair to say that the last person in Canada you’d want to pick a public beef with is Christine Sinclair, the captain of Canada’s Olympic gold medal winners in soccer from the Tokyo 2022 Olympics. You. Are. Going. To. Lose. Sinclair embodies everything virtuous about playing for your sport and your country.

But Canada Soccer has still decided to pick a fight with Sinclair and the national women’s soccer team over cuts to the budgets of the national soccer teams and an alleged failure to keep up payments. At the real heart of the issue is pay equity with the men’s team which had  just returned to the World Cup for the first time since 1986. (The men’s 2022 edition of the World Cup generated $440 million to participating teams.)

Last week the Canadian National Women’s Soccer team threatened to strike before the upcoming “She Believes” tournament. Sinclair said it broke her heart to take the action. Then Canada Soccer fired back, saying it would sue the players if the Canadian Professional Soccer Association broke its contract to play in the upcoming tournament.

So Sinclair and her teammates backed off the strike threat— but not off the moral high ground in the media. “We are being forced back to work for the short term,” said Sinclair. “This is not over. We will continue to fight for everything we deserve and we will win. The She Believes is being played in protest.”

What is baffling in this bun fight is that both sides seem agreed on the issue of equal pay for the woman players. ”Pay equity for our Women’s National Team is at the core of our ongoing player negotiations. Canada Soccer will not agree to any deal without it,” the statement said.

Fine. They can do whatever they want with the money generated by World Cups and other tournaments played by men and women. If they want that split 50/50, so be it. And they agree that the women’s team is a national treasure.

But about equal pay for work of equal value… we have yet to see Canada’s women’s soccer generate anything like what the men generate from World Cups etc. Not even close. Attempts to establish a pro league for women are dormant. So the money to balance that equation has to come from somewhere else. The men aren’t giving up what they earn. Government? Cui compromitto? Cui bono?

As we wrote in July of 2019, “So where is the money supposed to come from to equal Megan Rapinoe’s pay with Lionel Messi or Paul Pogba? Clearly, women’s soccer does not generate the money men’s soccer does. In calling their treatment unfair, the women players seemed to be implying that public money should be shifted to benefit them.”

When this argument on “eating what you kill” was made in negotiations for the American soccer teams, the women sued for discrimination. (After an early decision in their favour, the suit was dismissed on appeal). They asked, “Aren’t women paid the same at Wimbledon?”— and they only play three sets to the mens’ five? Executives quickly capitulated to the howler monkeys on social media.

But that still doesn’t placate women athletes who insist they are victims of discrimination. As we wrote, “The problem Megan Rapinoe and her colleagues have— one that they share with women in many, but not all sports— is that they can’t even make the sale to their fellow women. Statistically women are 51 percent of the population. Yet, outside a few sports like figure skating or during Olympiads, their fellow women take a pass on buying tickets or cable TV subscriptions to watch them.”

Not much has changed in this regard since 2019. There are huge new piles of money coming into sports from digital rights and gambling, and men still generate the lion’s share. How nowhere is women’s sport? They’ve legalized gambling on women’s sports— and no one still goes near them.

Salty comedian Bill Burr admires the skills and dedication of women athletes but says there’s only one culprit in this wonky economics. “Look at the WNBA: they have been playing in front of 300 to 400 people a night for a quarter of a century. Not to mention, it’s a male-subsidized league. We gave you a league, and none of you showed up. 

“Where are all the feminists? That place should be packed with feminists — faces painted, wearing jerseys, going f—ing nuts like the guys do! None of you went to the f—ing games. You failed them. Not me. Not men — women failed the WNBA. Ladies, name your top five WNBA players of all time. Name five WNBA teams. Name the WNBA team in your city. You can’t do it!”

“You’re playing in a 20,000-seat arena — 1,500 people show up. That’s not a good night!”

Look, if people want the emotional feminist argument, fill your boots. In the land of good will and virtuous notions Christine Sinclair should get the entertainment money generated by women. But she’s not.

That money, as Burr points out, is going to entertainment vehicles like The Kardashians and RuPaul. Advertisers follow the audience and, despite equal pay settlements across sport, the money is not going to women’s sports. And when we hear political radicals assail men’s sports for drowning out women’s sports, we say, physician heal thyself. The cure lies in your hands, not men’s.

Sign up today for Not The Public Broadcaster newsletters. Hot takes/ cool slants on sports and current affairs. Have the latest columns delivered to your mail box. Tell your friends to join, too. Always provocative, always independent.

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster  A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his new book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via

BRUCE DOWBIGGIN Award-winning Author and Broadcaster Bruce Dowbiggin's career is unmatched in Canada for its diversity and breadth of experience . He is currently the editor and publisher of Not The Public Broadcaster website and is also a contributor to SiriusXM Canada Talks. His new book Cap In Hand was released in the fall of 2018. Bruce's career has included successful stints in television, radio and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster for his work with CBC-TV, Mr. Dowbiggin is also the best-selling author of "Money Players" (finalist for the 2004 National Business Book Award) and two new books-- Ice Storm: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Vancouver Canucks Team Ever for Greystone Press and Grant Fuhr: Portrait of a Champion for Random House. His ground-breaking investigations into the life and times of Alan Eagleson led to his selection as the winner of the Gemini for Canada's top sportscaster in 1993 and again in 1996. This work earned him the reputation as one of Canada's top investigative journalists in any field. He was a featured columnist for the Calgary Herald (1998-2009) and the Globe & Mail (2009-2013) where his incisive style and wit on sports media and business won him many readers.

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Bruce Dowbiggin

Succession Planning: Justin’s Excellent Chinese Adventure

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Bruce Dowbiggin

The Formidable Superstar, Jim Brown Never Fit Black Or White Stereotypes

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“M***er fuckers be hanging off him. Eight of ‘em be begging Jim, ‘Please, Jim, would you fall down, please? We’re on TV, my kids are watching’.” Richard Pryor  on NFL players trying to tackle Jim Brown in the 1960s. 

The death at 87 of legendary athlete/ film star/ political activist Jim Brown comes just over three months from the death of hockey icon Bobby Hull. Both were alpha males possessed of adonis figures, the essence of vitality in their time. Brown gave up the NFL to become a film star. He went on to champion causes in the black political movement.

Hull went on to sire a HHoF player Brett Hull and work in the cattle industry. He also traded on his stardom. He is still regarded as one of the five most famous Chicago sports figures of all time, up there with Michael Jordan, Dick Butkus, Gayle Sayers and Ernie Banks.

Neither man was without controversy, however. Brown’s name was frequently associated with domestic violence. According to press reports, “On June 9, 1968, Brown, then 32, was booked on suspicion of assault with intent to commit murder against his girlfriend. The arrest occurred when Brown lived in Los Angeles while working as an actor. The woman, a model, was found semiconscious and moaning on a concrete patio 20 feet below the balcony of Brown’s Hollywood apartment.”

There were other incidents with police involvement, many in fact, but you get the drift. Hull, too, had a nasty legacy of domestic assault stemming from incidents involving his first wife. Neither man spent time in jail for the episodes. Hull made some politically insensitive remarks as well.

But, funny thing. When Hull died the Canadian sports press reports dutifully dredged up all his personal business to rebalance the adulation he received in life. As we reported at the time, some people thought that part of his life defined Hull.

But you had to look very hard into the reports of U.S. sports media on Brown’s death this week to find much about his less-attractive side. The praise for his athletic prowess was effusive. Rightly so. But for the liberal sports press that came of age in the 1960s, it was too much to taint Brown’s political legacy by showing his less-flattering past. So they almost universally gave it a pass. In one interview, Bob Costas, the liberal’s liberal in the press box, skirted the issue to dwell on his boyhood memories of Brown.

Wonder why? Those news sources that dared mention it— the New York Times— were lambasted for sullying his reputation with the facts. “It’s the New York Times vs. ESPN for scumbag of the week” is a sampling of the pushback from the sports world.

While playing at Syracuse, Brown was perhaps the greatest lacrosse player in American history before going on to football fame with the Cleveland Browns of the NFL. We can still remember, as Richard Pryor did, the sight of No. 32 dragging defenders along behind him as he set rushing and TD records in a 12-game season— records that are still mostly unassailable. He’s a Top Five NFL player all-time. Colts HOF tight end John Mackey summed up Brown’s style. “He told me, ‘Make sure when anyone tackles you he remembers how much it hurts’.” They did. Vividly.

We can also recall the shocking news that Brown was ditching football in 1966 after nine NFL seasons to star in a Hollywood epic, The Dirty Dozen, with Lee Marvin, John Cassavetes and Donald Sutherland. (He intended to return to the Browns but when they wouldn’t let him miss training camp he retired.)  How would he do? We rushed to see the film. Brown was just fine, dragging his fellow cast members after him like NFL players as he took on the Nazis.

He went on to star in 100 Rifles as Hollywood’s first black action star. Other movies followed. When the glamour of films lost its lustre Brown became an icon for the black political movement. He supported Muhammad Ali in his fight to avoid prison for refusing to serve in Viet Nam. He created camps and schools for black children and was a recurring figure at the seminal moments for black empowerment.

But his philosophy was not today’s Marxist #BLM brand. “We’ve got to get off the emotional stuff and do something that will bring about real change,” he said. “We’ve got to have industries and commercial enterprises and build our own sustaining economic base. Then we can face white folks man-to-man and we can deal.” He was not easily intimidated.

In 2018, Brown and Kanye West met with President Donald Trump to discuss the state of America. Criticized by the black community for the meeting, Brown said, ”we can’t ignore that seat and just call names of the person that’s sitting in it”. Brown called Trump “accessible”, and said that the president was not a racist. The Brown obits in liberal media buried those quotes deep in stories.

Still he scared some folks. Files declassified in 2003 showed that the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service and several police departments had monitored Brown and the Black Economic Union, attempting to smear the group as a source of Communist and radical Muslim extremism. Hillary Clinton would have been proud.

Brown himself was into unapologetic self-improvement as he showed when he went to Pryor’s hospital room after the comedian set himself alight while freebasing. While others soft pedalled their advice Brown made it clear that Pryor had to kick drugs, and that he would help him do so. (As thanks, Pryor later screwed Brown in a film deal that would have brought him millions.)

Brown was unrepentant when confronted about his past. “I’m no angel,” he told The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer in 1970. Regarding the assault allegations, he said, “I’ve never been convicted. I’ve just been harassed. I’ve been hit so much I don’t sting any more… I take it and look my accuser in the eye. I don’t look at my shoes when I talk to anybody. I know what I am. I only have to live with myself.”

That he did. The biggest difference between him and Hull was that the critics of the Golden Jet wanted to get tawdry clicks from his life story. With Brown they wanted him to advertise their Woke selves. That’s a huge and crucial difference in this insane world.

Sign up today for Not The Public Broadcaster newsletters. Hot takes/ cool slants on sports and current affairs. Have the latest columns delivered to your mail box. Tell your friends to join, too. Always provocative, always independent.

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster  A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his new book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via

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