The summer Olympics is arguably the largest televised event across the world. As many of these athletes prepare for one of the biggest moments of their lives, one must pose the question, “Is the biggest moment of your life worth all the hard work without fair compensation?”
The U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (USWNT) has consistently performed better than the U.S. Men’s National Soccer team for a considerable amount of time. The women’s national team has contributed higher revenues than the men’s national team, in the professional leagues, women are paid a fraction of what the men earn. Women have been fighting the pay gap for a long time, but the needle will not move without assistance from other sources.
We spoke about the lack of support women receive in the workplace in a recent DiversityDB article. Similar dynamics exist in the world of sports The only way to change this narrative is to bring these equality issues to the forefront and obtain assistance via male allyship. NBA superstar Chris Paul stated, “Women can’t fight this fight alone.”
There are massive structural disparities that separate men and women when it comes to financial support. In 2016, the USWNT filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for unequal pay. Unfortunately, unequal pay isn’t the only issue women face. The accommodations when traveling is significantly different than their male counterparts. The 2021 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments illuminated inequities as it was publicly shown how the women’s basketball teams were treated differently. The accommodations the women’s teams received were lesser than the men’s teams with the women’s allotted far inferior workout facilities. Will Allen, of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, stated, “It’s important that women are not only paid equal, but treated with respect.” Other stars such as Steph Curry, Kyrie Irving, and many others called out the NCAA for the disparities between the boys and the girls.
How We Can Learn from History
Billie Jean King is a trailblazer for equal pay in women’s tennis. The tennis legend realized that she wouldn’t be listened to unless she was number one in the world. Billie lobbied for equal prize money in the men’s and women’s games and formed a women’s tennis association. As a result of her efforts, the 1973 U.S. Open became the first tournament to offer equal prize money to both men and women.
Famous for her win against Bobby Riggs in the battle of the sexes, King remains legendary for taking the lead and fighting for equality under tremendous amounts of pressure. Her courage helped bridge the gap for equality and it is what athletes are currently trying to accomplish in other sports.
The Bottom Line
Patriarchy is outdated; it will take courage and powerful advocates to use their voices to be a vessel for change. These athletes are putting in the same time and effort as their male counterparts and are deserving of both equal recognition and comparable compensation. Let’s be a part of the change and learn more on how we can help support our women in their respective athletic careers.