The U.S. Women’s National Team rolled to a 2-0 defeat of the Netherlands on Sunday, clinching their second World Cup in a row. Their dominance in the tournament was a joy to watch – at least for American fans – and their fourth World Cup title over all sends a clear message about their team’s excellence. However, all is not well because these players continue to be paid less than their male counterparts.
It is incongruous not just in soccer but all sports that female athletes get paid less than male players. In the case of the USWNT it is a particularly a disgrace because the female team is clearly more popular and successful than the male team. The female players – Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan in particular – are megawatt stars and are known worldwide. Why are they not deserving of equal pay?
The team is currently involved in a lawsuit to correct this travesty. The legions of their fans would probably find it hard to argue with the logic of giving equal pay to the USWNT. The case also brings a broader focus on female athletes in all other sports and the inequity of the pay scale. We can also take a look at the bigger issue of equal pay for women across the board not just in sports but all employment situations.
Besides the joy we have about the team’s victory, we cannot underestimate the effect this winning performance has on young females. Stuck with brothers and fathers watching male dominated sports like football and baseball, girls can turn to the USWNT for heroes that they can admire and emulate. As a father of a young girl who played soccer for years (and won one championship), I cannot tell you how important this team has been to her in not only wanting to play the sport but to also pursue other endeavors in her life and career.
It is necessary and compelling that there should be equity for men and women in the workplace – whether it is on or off the field. Watching the team win a world title has been great for female fans but is perhaps more important for male fans. Young boys can see that female players can be just as good – or as in the case of the USWNT even better – than a male team. Hopefully this will inspire boys to respect and appreciate female players in all sports.
Today in New York City the team will be treated to a ticker tape parade like many male championship teams before them. They are completely deserving of this honor and it puts a finishing touch on their impressive play in the World Cup.
We can only hope the USWNT has one more victory coming its way in court. Equal pay makes sense to anyone who watched the tournament and saw the level of excellence this team exhibited. Let us hope they will be rewarded by the court and receive the payment that most Americans realize that they deserve.