Every now and then, it just so happens that I catch myself worrying about my little sister’s future. I mean, what is it going to be like for her growing up as a woman in the United States? Let alone as a black woman. If you have been following the news lately, then you’ve probably heard about folks debating whether or not men and women should be paid equally for doing the same work. This to me, is one of the craziest debates I have ever heard. You would think that the answer would be short and sweet, right? Well, I hate to break it to you, but it is not that simple. Let me explain!
A couple months ago, I tuned in with my little sister to watch the United States Womens Soccer Team take on the defending champions, Japan. Thirty minutes into the game, with the U.S. winning with a score of 4-0, I heard my sister say something that I have always wanted to hear. She said, “When I grow up, I want to be like Alex Morgan. I want to play soccer for a living”. I won’t lie. Hearing her say that definitely made me very happy, but it also worried me a little. Having played college soccer, her statement made me very happy because I saw this as an opportunity to continue to bond with my sister over something we are both passionate about. I did, however, feel really ashamed that I had to tell her that even if she were to become a professional soccer player, she might need to have another job on the side simply because women get paid a lot less in sports than men do.
Isn’t that preposterous? I mean, let me explain. This past year, Team USA was awarded $2 million for their First Place finish. While this amount is significant, it pales in comparison to what the USA Mens Team received last year after losing in round sixteen: $9 million. It really pales in comparison to what Germany’s Mens Team received for winning: $35 million. Yes, some might argue that gender pay gap in professional soccer is fair because the men’s World Cup brings in more money. Others say that women’s sports just aren’t as exciting to watch. But let’s look at the facts.
According to a USsoccer.com article, the U.S. Women’s National Team set a television ratings record during its victory in the finals of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup against Japan, making the game the most-watched soccer match in U.S. history. According to FOX, the match clocked in at just under 23 million viewers, an increase of 77 percent, compared to the Final of the 2011 Women’s World Cup, a match between the same teams. The article also explains that the viewership recorded during the Final was comparable in number to sporting events like Game seven of the 2014 World Series, which was watched by around 23 million people. These television records have been part of a wave in the US this summer. Women’s soccer has seemingly reached the pinnacle of its existence in the American eye, building high fan engagement during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
It’s a shame that in 21st Century America, we still discriminate based on gender. It’s even more absurd to think that most of the individuals who stand against equal pay for equal work are men who were raised by women. I think it’s the most selfish decision you can ever make as a man. Deciding that the woman who gave you birth and took care of you when you couldn’t take care of yourself does not deserve to be treated equally is not acceptable.
For gender pay gap to be addressed both in sports and in other areas of life, America must stand and lead the rest of the world. This won’t happen, however, if we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to have this conversation. Tonight at your dinner table, take a few minutes and ask your family members what they think about the gender pay gap in our world.