THE BLOG

The Lance Armstrong Solution -- Stop Paying Male Athletes Millions and They'll Stop Cheating

10/30/2013 05:28 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

Dare your best friend to eat a bucket of maggots. Then offer that same friend a million dollars to eat the same bucket of maggots and listen for that delightful capitalist crunch.

Humans are weak. And they become especially weak once you start shoving millions into their eager, money-grubbing fingers. Thankfully, most humans don't have to worry about making bad moral decisions after being offered a cool mill, because most of us are poor. Or -- relative to a baseball player netting $50 million a year -- poorish.

Someone who did have to worry about bad moral decisions relative to millions offered him was Lance Armstrong. As a result of some astronomically poor moral decisions -- including bizarre and highly icky allegations involving blood bags motorcycled to a bus -- Lance has now had his medals stripped and is being sued by the federal government due to the nearly $40 million the U.S. Postal Service spent sponsoring the champion cyclist.

In 2005 alone, old Lance netted around $17.5 million from sponsors, according to reporting from CNN. His total net worth hovers around $125 million.

My total net worth hovers around entering my piled up work expenses for the past three months, divided by bottles of wine drank last week, times bags of food bought for cat. My daily moral decisions involve how many times I check Facebook while I'm supposed to be working and finding a way to dispose of uneaten kale without God seeing me.

But in fairness here, I'm just an invaluable hack trying to connect the world to free information, not a professional athlete on a mission from a higher power. I get it. Sports equals entertainment equals money and that's the respected equation for the world we live in.

But not quite the world we live in, for as it turns out, most professional female athletes don't even get their by gum American right to behave immorally for millions, as most of them aren't being offered those millions.

The average major league baseball salary in 2012 was almost $3.5 million, according to CBS Sports. The NFL limits team spending on football players to a paltry $123 million. Take a look at the top 50 richest athletes, according to Celebrity Networth. What you will find are ridiculous numbers like a 675 followed by six zeros. What you won't find is a single woman on the list.

Data for professional women's sports was difficult to even find online. The most recent information I came upon was a report from the National Committee on Pay Equity, which stated that in 2005, the minimum salary for a WNBA player was $31,200, the maximum salary was $89,000, and the team salary cap was $673,000. For NBA players at that same time, the minimum salary was $385,277, the maximum salary was $15.355 million, and the team salary cap was $46 million.

One pervasive argument for why women's sports aren't popular (and therefore less likely to have money thrown at them) is that the demand just isn't there. Women don't play or watch sports on the same level as men.

But what if sports in the western world are fundamentally driven by masculine notions, leaving women in the dust no matter their drive or desire to keep up?

Enacted by Congress in 1972, Title IX was supposed to stop gender discrimination among all education programs receiving federal assistance, but many point to the law as evidence of sports equality from elementary to collegiate level.

In a 2010 Connecticut Law Review article titled, "Not Just One of the Boys: A Post-Feminist Critique of Title IX's Vision for Gender Equity in Sports," author Dionne Koller challenges that we might want something even better than sports equality, like an all together different way of looking at athletics.

She writes:

...Women who might be interested in athletics are forced to either assimilate into the male-constructed model for sport which emphasizes elite ability, commercial appeal, and a win-at-all-costs mentality or not play at all.

Does that "win-at-all-costs mentality" ring a bell, Lance? After overhearing a man defend Lance Armstrong with a dismissive, "Everyone lies" argument, The New Yorker's Michael Specter wrote:

Everyone doesn't earn thirty million dollars a year, nearly all of it from endorsements based not just on athletic prowess but on the golden aura of a man so pure, so dedicated, that he would bear any burden and endure any pain to win the world's most grueling athletic contest again and again and again.

Everyone may lie. But everyone doesn't perform secret blood transfusions on a bus to get that annual $30 mill.

Reexamine why we play sports in the first place and turn off the millions flowing to professional athletes. And watch the bloodsuckers start to fall away.