Insecurity: The real reason female athletes aren’t treated equally


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by Maya Winczura, Staff Writer

Fans screaming, followers rolling in, and headlines with a woman’s name plastered on them!  You’ve finally made it as an athlete and everyone is happy for you…except your bank account. Women have been playing sports professionally for decades but the battle for equal pay and fair opportunities is nowhere near over. Unfortunately, being a female athlete comes with a price, ranging from mistreatment to sexist comments from internet trolls.

Despite achieving countless national and world titles, including 4 out of 8 Women’s World Cup wins, the U.S. women’s soccer team (WNT) has been in an active battle against their federation for equal pay. In 2019, highest paid women’s soccer player, Carli Lloyd made $518,000 while highest paid male footballer, Lionel Messi took home $141 million. Many argue that lack of media coverage is the reason for this pay gap but that makes no sense. Sports reporters don’t cover women’s athletics as much because of stereotypes and subconscious fear they will get less clicks if the story surrounds a woman. 

Another common excuse is science. The U.S. Soccer Federation released a statement following a gender discrimination lawsuit, claiming they’re “‘entitled to treat men better because of biology,” adding that the overall ability required to compete at the MNT level is influenced by speed and strength, implying women lack that. If there are different standards of what makes a female and male athlete “great,” pay should be equivalent if both players are reaching their standard. The federation also said WNT and MNT players don’t perform equal work under similar working conditions, which is partially true. The lack of WNT funding prevents women from playing to their fullest potential. The “problems” proposed can be solved with investing more time and money into the women’s team. The real problem comes down to not wanting to make a change. 

In the short time I’ve been playing tennis, I’ve encountered small instances of sexism like a conversation overheard between two boys that included “Tennis is a sport for men anyway.” Of course I’ve also heard, “You’re good for a girl,” and “I just a girl.” Sometimes the discrimination comes from coaches. While playing doubles with a male partner, my coaches will often only congratulate him for a win despite me hitting most of our winning shots. This is why hearing the director of the BNP Paribas Open say female players “ride on the coattails of the men,” and praise Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for “carrying the sport,” was especially upsetting. Girls pursuing  a career in sports should be able to do so without men’s insecurities getting in the way. 



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Keating, Peter. “Analysis: What Equal Pay in Sports Really Means, as the Fight Goes on for U.S. Women’s Soccer.” ESPN, ESPN Internet Ventures, 14 May 2020.

Mervosh, Sarah, and Christina Caron. “8 Times Women in Sports Fought for Equality.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 8 Mar. 2019.