Tayla Harris’ demand for a $150,000 payday has well and truly divided us as a footy-obsessed country. One side believes she isn’t worth nearly as much, the other argues the benefit she brings to the game are intangible. The former wants to talk about the numbers. So, let’s do exactly that.
The main argument opposing Harris’ demands is of a financial nature. She, and the AFLW, don’t generate as much revenue as their male counterparts, meaning they don’t deserve to be paid as much. This is an archaic view, full of hypocrisies. A 2019 report showed the Gold Coast Suns had the lowest average attendance (19,810 patrons) that mens AFL season. That didn’t stop the club from signing four 20-year-olds for $400k each annually in just their second seasons.
Using the former argument, surely the players aren’t entitled to receive that amount due to their meagre crowd attendances?
Such disparities are not found in just AFL football. The highest ever attendance for a state cricket final was seventeen years ago, with 7536 fans attending a game in March 2004. But the falling crowd numbers doesn’t stop male domestic cricketers from cashing in, with the average salary rising to at least $235,000 in 2017.
The average AFLW attendance in 2019 was just over 6000 per match – and Harris’ salary, as arguably the best player in the entire competition, was likely under her rumoured 2021 figure of $80,000.
What’s more, Harris’ impact on the game can’t be substantiated purely in numbers. The popularity of AFLW has exploded in recent years, and it is difficult to argue she is not a leading factor in the continued growth of the league.
Harris possesses the rare, magical combination of ability and marketability. She is not the only one – think Erin Phillips, Daisy Pearce and Sabrina Frederick – but is certainly part of a select few at the forefront of the game’s growth.
Tayla Harris is inspiring countless girls around the world to pick up a Sherrin. And you can’t put a price on that.