kittens25, I concur with most of your post, but I would argue (bad word...maybe I mean contend?) that men and women compete at an equal level in eventing, jumping, in fact pretty much all equestrian sports with the exception of polo, where strength is more of a factor. However I'm splitting hairs, in the vast majority of sports women just aren't physically strong enough to compete against men.
Johnny Mac upset a lot of people a few years ago when he aired his views on this topic. I can't remember what he said verbatim, please everyone, feel free to correct me if I am misquoting him, but I believe he said something like the WTA No. 1 could not beat any ATP player in the top 500. The Williams sisters were completely dominating the sport at this time and as I recall there was a lot of debate as to whether or not they could compete on the mens' tour (theoretically, obviously!)
In almost all cases, I don't think a WTA player could beat an ATP player over 5 sets, but 1 set would be interesting. I recently attended Superset, a 1 set knockout competition, and saw Johnny Mac thrash a 17 year old 6-1 (granted he's a British player and ranked about 300, but he'd just won the USO junior title). McEnroe also came damn close to beating Ancic (9-7).
Apologies for getting off topic (a bad habit of mine that ex Rak-Yakkers will be all too familiar with
) My take on the equal pay question is that as men spend more time on the court it is fair that they receive more cash. Also, IMHO, until recently mens' tennis attracted more fans and the players were bigger "stars". However if the current trend continues and the womens' tour becomes a much bigger crowd puller than the ATP then perhaps the pay should be reviewed.
To conclude, I can never get too worked up on this topic as I can't really feel too sorry for the women who "only" get half a million quid or whatever.
Cry me a river!