Sports Spotlight

Women athletes stand up

Emily Pavlik, co-sports editor

Four World Cup titles.

1991, 1999, 2015, and 2019.

Women players earned $99,000 a year, $4,950 per game.

While the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team has won the women’s World Cup four times in the last 30 years, the United States Men’s National Soccer Team has never won a World Cup and male players earn  $263,320 per year, or $13,166 per game. However, although the U.S Women’s Soccer Team was performing better in comparison to the men’s games, they didn’t receive as much money from the National Soccer Association.

I’ve been an athlete for as long as I can remember. Before my first soccer game, my dad tied up my laces and encouraged me not to let anyone push me around. I felt at peace because no matter what team I played on, I always thought of the score to be zero to zero. The game was even, and until the final score, I had to earn the win. However, this does not hold true for the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, who face persistent, gender-based inequality before the score was even set.

On Feb. 22, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team received $24 million from the national soccer federation to equalize pay between the men’s and women’s teams. The women’s program consists of a pledge confirming equal payment in all competitions. In an article written by The New York Times titled “U.S. Soccer and Women’s Players Agree to Settle Equal Pay Lawsuit,” former co-captain and striker Alex Morgan said she values fairness in her workforce.

“We set out to have equal treatment in working conditions, and we got that through the working conditions settlement,” Morgan said. “We set out to have equal pay and we achieved that.”

When I was four, I dealt with sexism in athletics for the first time. While I participated in soccer, a sport popular for both boys and girls, I had wanted to play in games with the rest of my classmates during recess. However, my pink twinkle toe gym shoes were quickly shunned away by a group of young boys. With the inability to count the number of times boys would say, “But you’re a girl,” to “This is a boys’ sport,” I had lost respect for myself on the soccer field. I had never given much thought to the process, but now I have realized that some people associate men’s sports differently than women’s.

After U.S. women’s soccer earned their recognition, they led by example for other athletes who looked for advice for better pay or working conditions, players from the Women’s National Basketball Association were a few of the many athletes who have taken the soccer team’s advice. Morgan acknowledged that aiding athletes during disputes for equal pay is valuable.

“It was extremely motivating to see organizations admit their wrongdoing,” Morgan said. “The domino effect that we helped kick-start, I think we’re really proud of it.”

I gained more confidence in my athletic ability from the encouragement of my peers. In my experience with sexism, I maintained a strong image of pride while competing in my sport. I’ve regained the faith to compete my hardest and value the aspect of showing off my skills when others undermine my capability.

I encourage all athletes to follow the example of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team; when faced with sexist comments, stand up for yourself. Disarm the images people have in their heads, and prove their accusations false.