Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Michelle Wie West was ready to retire. Then she got angry.

Wie West has approached other athletes fighting for change, including Renee Powell, one of the first African-American members of the LPGA, and tennis icon Billie Jean King, who described how her threat to boycott the US Open in 1973 as the defending women’s champion spurred the tournament to become the first of the Grand Slam events that paid men and women equal for their victories. Wie West has compared notes with WNBA standout and Players Association president Nneka Ogwumike, whose bachelor year at Stanford overlapped with hers.

The talks inspired Wie West to float the idea of ​​forming an intersport council that could tackle the pay gap and unequal resources between men’s and women’s sports.

In 2019, the final full season before the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the gaming calendar, 73 female players exceeded $ 50,000 in course earnings. That same season on the PGA Tour, the 73rd highest earner earned $ 1,553,149.

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The golfer who wins on Sunday will take home $ 1 million from $ 5.5 million, the largest purse on the trip. The winner of the US Open for men in Torrey Pines earns $ 2.25 million this month from a purse of $ 12.5 million.

Recently, Wie West was reminded by his father-in-law, Jerry West, who works for the Los Angeles Clippers as a consultant, that the big bucks in men’s sports did not materialize overnight.

West, the second overall pick in the 1960 draft, told her he did not have an agent when he became a pro, and during his first contract he had an off-season social work job for Great Western Savings to supplement his NBA income.

“He told me the NBA was not something they considered a full-time job,” Wie West said. Like tides, the wave that lifts all paychecks requires a perfect storm of leadership, talent, exposure, performances, marketing – to be adapted.

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Michelle Wie West was ready to retire. Then she got angry.
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