The United States women’s national team is on a historic pace to obliterate records in this year’s World Cup tournament. The plus/minus differential is staggering.
The USWNT has scored a staggering 22 goals thus far while only giving up two in the process; making it a plus-20 differential, which has never been done before.
But while this USWNT is undeniably historic, Democratic Presidential hopeful Kamala Harris blasted the pay disparity between the women and men’s team, but here’s why she’s wrong.
It’s common sense, something you learn early in life like it’s an ancient proverb; life isn’t fair sometimes. Should that be an excuse to be unfair? No, of course not, but that doesn’t mean things always are what they appear to be.
Women have been fighting for equal pay in the workplace for decades. While that’s not the entirety of the whole picture, there’s nothing wrong with striving to attain that in a competitive marketplace. It’s the very definition of capitalism.
But on the other side of the capitalism spectrum is the right for employers to pay its employees regardless of race, gender and creed what they settle on; and it usually boils down to the negotiation process.
The epitome of a pioneer of women’s power in sports is the first female president of a sports organization, Amy Trask, who ran the Oakland Raiders under owner Al Davis’ last years and wrote a book called “You Negotiate Like a Girl: Reflections on a Career in the National Football League.”
Trask joined the organization as an intern during law school and moved all the way up to the highest position in the organization as a female and in the most competitive male-dominated sport in America. How did she do it? By taking her gender completely out of the equation.
And then you have the NBA versus the WNBA. The median salary for women in the WNBA is a measly $71,635 while an NBA player’s minimum salary is $582,180. One could argue that the NBA has been around for much longer which allowed the unions to negotiate higher salaries for players, but the reality is that it’s a reflection of the marketplace. It’s really that simple.
A WNBA salary is the value of the player to the team over the popularity of the sport through television ratings and stadium attendance.
But the USWNT is more popular than the WNBA for obvious reasons and that’s why California Sen. Kamala Harris chimed in on Saturday to justify equal pay for the USWNT.
She wrote, “The USWNT scored more goals in their first World Cup match against Thailand than the U.S. men’s team scored in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups combined. We’re beyond past time to pay these championship athletes what they deserve.”
There’s a lot to unpack of the naivety with her comment.
First of all, maybe the reason why the men’s team doesn’t score a whole lot of goals is because the competition is stiffer and more competitive; not that it’s not in women’s soccer as well but maybe the distance in talent between the USWNT and Thailand’s is drastically larger.
And Sen. Harris does have a point that our men’s team isn’t very good on the global stage, while the women’s is completely dominant and a favorite going into the tournament nearly every year since the 1990s. There is something to be said about that.
But the fact remains is that women’s soccer isn’t nearly the global (even in America) brand as the men’s.
Men’s soccer is literally the biggest sport in the world and, unfortunately, gender distinction is a big part of that popularity. To be fair too, in women’s professional sports around the world, there’s no question that tennis dwarfs all others. Serena Williams is probably the richest female athlete in the world.
However, the women’s purse for the World Cup doubled since the 2015 tournament.
It went from a total of $15 million to $30 million; with the winning team splitting $4 million amongst the team.
However, when it comes to revenue in the World Cup; for instance, in 2010 the Women’s WC brought in $73 million in revenue and that same year the Men’s brought in $4 billion.
In 2018, the Men’s World Cup garnered 3.6 billion total viewers across the world. That viewership brought $6 billion in profits to FIFA, the international soccer league. However, the last Women’s World Cup in 2015 only saw 764 million viewers.
This is undeniably unfair, especially when you take into account how much more dominant the women’s team is on a global scale versus the men’s, but it’s an unfortunate reality of the situation.