Last month, AEG announced that the Tour of California (TOC) would not be resuming in 2020, despite a seemingly popular 2019 run. With the abrupt cancelation, which spells the current end of any UCI Women’s WorldTour races on the continent, came plenty of speculation, gossip, and finger-pointing.
If you follow the cycling world as closely as we do here at Bike Legal, then you have probably already heard that California’s “Equal Pay for Equal Play” law, AB467, put the quash on the 2020 Tour of California. By demanding equal pay opportunities for female cyclists participating in the event, the bill’s proponents – including former cyclist racer Kathryn Bertine – forced AEG to shut down the entire thing instead because they couldn’t afford the bigger bill. At least, that is what you will read on certain news sites and forums.
But what really put TOC on hiatus? And, what can put it back on event calendars again? The answers are, unfortunately, not so clear right now.
Why is AB467 Being Blamed at All?
AB467 requires sporting and competitive event organizers like AEG to pay men and women equally for any event that is held on state lands. The Tour of California features female cyclists on only three of the seven days it runs, with men being given opportunities to race and perform on all seven days. The math says that women cannot earn as much as men by participating in TOC because they can only compete in a fraction of the days that men can. In fact, the limited days mean a woman can only earn about 42% of what a man can in TOC, no matter how well she performs in the cycling races.
With the passage of AB467, the Tour of California would have to adjust to allow women to race on all seven days, giving them the chance to be paid equally as men. This necessary change has led some people to speculate that the AEG canceled TOC entirely to avoid the cost hike of paying all the participants in women’s cycling events that much more.
Did Equal Pay End TOC?
At this time, there is no telling exactly why AEG is putting the Tour of California on hiatus. No one from the organization has given a direct reason, and certainly nothing that would confirm AB467 and equal-pay requirements were behind the decision. For every article you can find that says AB467 ended TOC, you will find another that says it did not. The highly complex issue matter is truly resting in speculation for now, but it is likely that the decision boiled down to more than just the new California law.
Solution: Paying Cyclists Based on Revenue
If AEG is truly hesitant to bring back the Tour of California due to cyclist wages, then there might be a simple solution: paying cyclists based on the revenue they generate, regardless of gender. In effect, cyclists would be paid a percentage based on how much money is made through sponsorships, viewership deals, marketing, and so forth. If women bring in twice as much sponsorship money and viewers than men, for example, then it would stand to say they would get paid twice as much—or vice versa. The pay would still be equal because it would be an equal percentage of the revenue generated, with only that revenue amount changing.
This seemingly simple premise lit up headlines earlier this year, actually, when it was revealed that female players for the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) make less pay despite earning the USSF more revenue. 28 members of the U.S. women’s national soccer team banded together to file a lawsuit against the USSF, citing wage disparity and gender discrimination. According to their lawsuit, they are paid roughly 33% a male player’s wages for nontournament games, while also earning just about a quarter of a man’s pay for earning a spot on the national team.
A switch to revenue-based-pay would seemingly solve both the USSF’s and the TOC’s problems. Of course, legal issues are always more intricate than they appear on the surface, but the concept of fair pay that doesn’t rely on gender isn’t.
For more information about this story as it develops, visit our news feed often for updated blog entries.
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