I originally did not want to write about sports having a larger impact on society. I wanted to write about something different, but I just could not bring myself to it.
Call it a flaw as a sports journalist or call it whatever you want, but at the end of the day this is a positive. What some can call a flaw, I call my way of understanding and seeing the world.
The gender pay gap has been a plaguing societal issue, haunting the United States for decades. But before the United States Women’s National Soccer team took a stance, I had never paid attention to it.
When five members of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team – including stars Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan – filed a wage-discrimination action against the U.S. Soccer Federation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, this issue entered my world dominated by sports.
Lloyd, a two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner and member of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup championship team, wrote an open essay to The New York Times explaining why she is fighting for equal pay. The 12-year veteran said when she filed the complaint late last month, it had nothing to do with how much she loves playing for her country. Instead it had everything to do with what’s right and what’s fair, and with upholding a fundamental American concept: equal pay for equal play.
There has been a serious lack of this American concept for decades, and it has now crept into my beloved sports world.
So, here is my message to the U.S. Soccer Federation: Let’s get serious.
Let me try to put in perspective how truly bad this pay gap has got in the quickly growing world of American soccer.
During this past July, when the USWNT won the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, American television saw historic ratings for a soccer broadcast, and according to a financial report published by U.S. Soccer last month, the team helped generate $17.7 million in profits for the Federation.
Both the men’s and women’s National Teams play a minimum of 20 friendlies in a given year. For those matches, the top five players on the men’s team make an of $406, 000 each, while the women’s team top five players are guaranteed only $72,000 each year.
A victory in the World Cup would mean a bonus of $390,000 a player, while the bonus for players after the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup victory was just $75,000.
These figures are embarrassing.
As a fan, it is troubling to see the pay gap, especially when the Women’s team has been exponentially more successful than their male colleagues. Through both team’s schedule in 2016, the men carry a 3-1 record while the Women hold an 11-0 mark. During that same span, the women have outscored opponents, 42-1.
It is time that the United States entered the 21st century and realized that women deserve equal pay. It is also time that we reward the performances of the USWNT, and recognize the championship performance that put the United States on top of soccer’s world stage.
Like I said, I did not want to write about sports having a larger impact on society, and I do not think I have done that. However, I believe that I have taken a part in the conversation for sports to make that impact on society. This is yet another opportunity for sports to step in and create a better world inside and outside of the stadium. When that happens, I’ll write on how sports are having a larger impact on society.