Gender Inequality In Sport Essay

“I don’t want to be a great female athlete. I want to be a great athlete” (unknown). Taking a look back on history, we could not possibly keep track of the number of times women were not given equal opportunity as men. It started off with rights as a whole, and then moved to voting, and even to this day we continue to battle with equal pay. Due to our biological makeup, men are key to our survival. As we have come to evolve and expand our knowledge, our past does not align with our present or even our future. Women have now moved themselves up the ladder and are making leaps and bounds just for a sense of equality.

There is one roadblock that still to this day we have not been able to battle through. This is the world of sports. This is a world of blood, sweat, and no room for tears. This is an industry where it continues to bring in trillions of dollars. This industry has taken the world by storm and runs the daily lives of not only Americans but internationally. It somehow still seems that there is not an equal place for women. For example, the United States Women’s soccer team that just won the 2015 Women’s World Cup has a salary cap of $800,000 which does not give a lot of money especially since salaries varies on the importance of the player.

In the men’s industry there is not salary cap. For the men’s side their salaries could range from $25,000 all the way up to $600,000 and we have not even calculated in the bonuses. I hope that one day someone can give me a real explanation other than viewership on the reasons why women do not deserve to be compensated for what they put their bodies through daily. One of this year’s biggest scandals had to do with FIFA (Federation International de Football Association) versus many of the world’s top women’s soccer players.

Right around the time that the men’s World Cup in Brazil (2014) was about to begin, FIFA announced that the Women’s World Cup 2015 in Canada would be played on turf fields. This has been an ongoing controversy for years in the world of soccer because for leagues and corporations building turf stadiums are cheaper because they do not have to be taken care of. Players have continuously fought back on it because many studies have shown that turf can increase the number of injuries, concussions, and it does not make the game authentic anymore.

Once FIFA announced that the women would have to play on turf fields for the biggest tage in the world, many players fought back. Abby Wambach, a forward for the United States Women’s soccer team became the voice to fight FIFA on this topic. Abby and many others file a petition to have FIFA change their mind before they begin to build these turf fields. All the time Abby and others spent on fighting this, Abby came to realize that it was not just about turf, it was because they were female. Teammate Alex Morgan goes on to say “they are treating us as second class to the men, using the women as guinea pigs in their experiment is just not right” (turf wars).

As outsiders looking in watching this whole controversy go back and forth between these professional athletes and FIFA, you can see the layers peel back and that Abby and Alex were right. They would never have had men play on a turf field for the World Cup of all tournaments. FIFA would have started smaller, such as international friendlies or even the English Premier League training camps. In October of 2014, Abby files lawsuits against FIFA in Canada on the basis of discrimination. FIFA knew that they would get away with this issue because the women would never in a million years boycott the World Cup.

It took a lot of people and many years to even give women a platform to play on. They knew that the women would not give up the opportunity to play on this large of a stage. This would be a different story for the men, because they would boycott the World Cup and FIFA would oblige with the demands because of how much money FIFA would lose. If this were somehow a case outside of sports, I think it would be handled in a different manner and the women would have probably gotten what they were fighting for. If it was a different sort of discrimination issue, a lot more people would have been on board and backed it up.

I think due to the fact that it was sports related, it lost a lot of its fire. Women’s soccer has struggled year in and year out. The professional league has folded many times, and in the past few years the popularity for the sport has really picked up. “Wambach and many other players signed a petition last year asking FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association to use grass fields for the tournament. But the petition had no influence over FIFA’s decision, despite being backed by around 4,000 signatures” (turf wars). Due to the lack of popularity for women’s sports the petition only received 4,000 signatures.

In the state of South Carolina, I would bet that there are more than 4,000 females that play soccer. If David Beckham came out and signed the petition and advertised it like he advertises Calvin Klein, we would see millions of signatures on that petition. It is just a continuous cycle of gender inequality especially trying to fight an organization (FIFA) that is run by corrupt men. Sports overall is lagging behind on many things in our society. Gender inequality has been one of the major topics related to sports for years. I know even for myself, I attended Florida State versus North Carolina State’s football game this past weekend.

North Carolina State’s mascot is a wolf. Their mascot that they had on the field during the game was a female wearing a dress. I was thinking to myself, why on earth do you have a female as a mascot? Mascots, are supposed to represent the team and be tough and strong. I think mainly my thought process was that we were at a football game, which is male dominated. If they had that mascot at a women’s soccer or basketball game then I would not care so much. At the same time, why does it matter if the mascot is male or female? Why do we as a society think that women cannot be representatives of strength?

This is where sports is behind. Women have fought tooth and nail on every issue in the book just to gain an ounce of respect, and I as a female are even thinking of discriminatory things. That is just living proof of how close-minded and corrupt our society is and will continue to be. Unfortunately, since this topic is not very exciting there was not too much talk about it in the media. It was not front page worthy, for it to be flooding media outlets. A lot of the media that did cover the topic gave the same theme of it not being a very important topic.

It was more or less shoved under the rug. Abby says in an interview on ESPN with Julie Foudy that she is very frustrated but this is not going to be a topic of discussion during the World Cup (ESPN). I found this very interesting because if this is something that Abby was very passionate about, and then I would think that this would be brought up on a world stage such as the World Cup. During the interview as well, Abby discussed how there were many companies that were interested in putting grass field in the stadiums used for the World Cup for free and FIFA still turned them away.

In another article, that came out in ESPN magazine, just gave the facts of the case. The case was portrayed as if FIFA has not much concern for the lawsuit and that there really was not much to worry about. One statement made by FIFA was “on Tuesday, a FIFA official visiting Canada ahead of the tournament next year said there were no plans to reconsider using artificial turf” (ESPN mag). There is just no concern for anyone other than themselves it is seen throughout. Furthermore, I am continuously dumbfounded by the carelessness of this topic.

The media is showing a neutral stance on this topic as I continue to read through articles and watch videos. There is not one media broadcast of anyone that shows that this is really an important topic. This also goes to show how behind sports are related to society. Everything, day in and day out just gets shoved under the rug. One article for CBS News that was posted back in 2014, has attached an Instagram photo of Sydney Leroux with her knees battered and torn up from playing a game on a turf field (CBS News).

It was reposted by some of the biggest names in sports like Kobe Bryant that says protect our athletes. This again brings up the theme of how the media seems that this is not an important topic to be discussed because it is not some “juicy” material. I honestly prefer to read about things like the fight for gender equality then to see a multitude of media outlets tweeting about how Greg Hardy beat the life out of his ex-girlfriend. Why as a society are we going to popularize a man for doing something in-humane but we cannot popularize women for wanting equality and safety?

Abby Wambach and other female athletes did not do many video interviews on the basis of this subject. It seems as though this was an important topic for them but they did not want to bring it out into the limelight very much. The only interview that was found was done with Julie Foudy who now is a ESPN reporter but played for the United States women’s soccer national team winning two World Cup’s in 1991 and 1999. Foudy does all the of the women’s soccer analysis which makes her interview stay in the corner that women’s soccer has always been put in.

All of the articles were covered by big conglomerates such as ESPN, CBS, and NBC but they were not the upfront articles that people would see once they go to ESPN. com. In conclusion, the biggest industry in the world is still holding itself back from being a front runner in the world due to its inability to create gender equality. There are no questions that men and women both deserve to have the same rights. Also, blatantly using women’s sports as a “guinea pig” for what is to come for men’s sports is truly disrespectful.

Although the media tries to soften the blow as seen throughout all the articles written about the Abby Wambach case, there is more to come from women’s sports. Especially in the world of soccer, FIFA is not going to be able to make mistakes that they have in the past because they have a spotlight on themselves with their own scandal. This is the time for Abby and all the supporters of this cause to really make a noise for what they believe in. This issue may be small in a big pong of problems but battles have to be won to win the war.