World Cup Say What?
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World Cup Say What?

The wage gap in women’s sports.

World Cup Say What?

July 5, 2015, the US Women’s Soccer team went up against Japan for their first World Cup win in 16 years. It marked the start of a nationwide celebration: girls dressed in soccer gear, flags painted across their cheeks, streaked with sweat from cheering their pride aloud. Pictures went viral of the players kissing their wives and their husbands and embracing each other. It was their victory, but on news screens across America there was a sense of our win, as they stood representing our country with amazing physical prowess.

So when I read that the women’s team only brought home $2 million after WINNING the World Cup, which is less than the $9 million the men’s team received last year after losing in the FIRST ROUND, I needed to sit down for a minute. The winning German male team received $35 million for the championship. Say what?

In the gist of fair reporting, it can be said that the women took home a larger percentage of the prize pool as $576 million rested on the fate of the men’s and only $15 million on the women’s. In that respect the women pocketed around 11 percent of the revenue compared to the 6.6 percent awarded to the Germans. But, a larger percentage is still significantly less money. I still think the entire situation levels an important question: Why don’t we value our female athletes as much as we do our male ones?

The excuse I’ve seen thrown around for such a devaluation of their time and skills is that “viewership is not as high for women’s sports and it's not like people haven’t heard about the wage gap before.”

This lack of viewership can be due in part to several unfortunate factors according to analysts. Some want to argue that watching women play isn’t as interesting as watching men play because their games lack speed and intensity by comparison as a result of biology. One look at Carli Lloyd’s midfield goal should send that one to the grave.

A study called “Gender Stereotyping in Televised Sports”, linked for those interested, indicated that in television sports news women’s sports were “underreported and underrepresented…Men’s sports received 92 percent of the air time, women’s sports 5 percent, and gender neutral topics 3 percent.” It then goes on to say that while they did focus regularly on women, the focus was rarely on female athletes. “More common were portrayals of women as comical targets of the newscasters’ jokes and/or as sexual objects (e.g., women spectators in bikinis).” If that’s how women are being portrayed in relation to sports, rather than as highly capable athletes in and of themselves, there’s no wonder viewership is low.

Now, as for the presumed "known-about" wage gap, if you adjust the German men’s team’s $35 million earnings to reflect how much they’d make if they earned 74 cents on the dollar, they’d make almost $26 million dollars. Wow, still more than $2 million. By like a lot. Whoops.

This problem is not one found just in the World Cup, but across many athletic areas in which women take part, where an active effort to make changes has not been taken. A 1997 study of Division 1-A schools revealed that female athletes made almost $143 million less scholarship money than their male counterparts during the 1995-96 year. In the 2005 season a WNBA player's minimum salary was $89,000 and the salary cap for her team was $673,000. In the NBA during the same time period, the minimum salary was $385,277 and the team’s salary cap $46 million. Numbers like these are fairly common unfortunately.

There has, however, been some headway into the realms of equality in the sports world. The Women’s Tennis Association has ensured that all four Grand Slam tournaments have given equal prize money to men and women since 2007. In both 2005 and 2006 of the New York City Marathon, winner Jelena Prokopcuka took home $100,000 with a bonus of $30,000, equaling the largest purse in marathon history.

It's up to us to continue that progress by increasing attendance at women’s sporting events, encouraging television and news stations to cover all women’s sports (not just the beach volleyball upsets), and demanding that we give all of our athletes the same respect.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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