FIFA World Cup: Female athletes deserve better pay
Last Sunday, the United States women's national soccer team made history by becoming the first team to win the FIFA World Cup three times.
In a 5-2 victory over Japan — a team it had previously lost to in the final match of the 2011 World Cup tournament — the U.S. team dominated with an aggressive attack strategy and impressive defense.
The United States demonstrated extraordinary skill and remarkable ability throughout the game, with Carli Lloyd even scoring her third goal from the halfway line just 13 minutes in. It was truly an exhilarating game to watch.
Which is what makes the fact that these outstanding athletes are paid 40 times less than their male counterparts all the more confusing.
According to Politico, the total payout for the Women's World Cup this year will be $15 million, which seems like a lot, until you compare it with $576 million — the total payout for the Men's World Cup last year.
And it's not just at the tournaments where female athletes are getting paid less. Professional players in the National Women's Soccer League reportedly have salary ranges from $6,000 to $30,000, and each team has a salary cap of $200,000. In comparison, the Major League Soccer salary cap in 2014 was $3.1 million.
That is a startling wage gap — one of the biggest in any workplace in the country.
The problem doesn't only occur in soccer, either. For years, women have made less in both golf and basketball, with salaries that pale in comparison with those of male athletes, according to the Women's Sports Foundation.
There are a few exceptions, in sports such as women's tennis and figure skating. The correlation seems to come from broadcast time, with network television stations not valuing women's sports equally with men's. Advertisers are less likely to invest in games that garner low audience numbers, and thus, networks are reluctant to show games that won't get them enough interest or ad revenue.
So I guess part of the problem lies with all of us. Why is America so disinterested in women's sports?
Of course, we know the answer already. Throughout history, sports have been thought of as an exclusive activity for men. Little boys were supposed to play football, soccer and baseball, while little girls played dolls or dress up.
Women, for so long, weren't allowed to play on professional sports teams. It wasn't until 1972, when President Nixon signed Title IX of the Education Amendment, that many women's collegiate sports teams were formed. The first FIFA Women's World Cup wasn't held until 1991, and the first WNBA season didn't begin until 1997. It even took until 2000 to form the National Women's Football League.
As a society, we've predominately pushed male athletes into the spotlight. Ask anyone on the street who LeBron James or Tom Brady is and he or she can immediately answer you. But, with the exception of a few athletes such Serena Williams, how many people could name some of the top female players in the country? Can you name the highest-ranking WNBA team this year? Can you name the winners of the Ladies Professional Golf Association 2014 tour?
We all need to do more for our female athletes. We need to encourage young girls to participate in sports. We need to support our high school and college teams. And we need to start paying more attention to our professional players.
These women are amazing athletes and they deserve more, both in pay and in attention. They've finally, after years of fighting, been given leagues of their own. But, it doesn't mean a thing if the whole country refuses to care.
Deanna Ferrante is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future.