“Women’s sports is still in its infancy. The beginning of women’s sports in the United States started in 1972, with the passage of Title IX for girls to finally get athletic scholarships.” – Billie Jean King.
You might be thinking, what is Title IX and what did it do for women’s sports? According to Donna Lopiano from Science Direct, Title IX is a federal anti-discrimination law passed in 1972 that mandates nondiscrimination in admissions access and treatment in all programs offered by recipients under federal funds. Title IX wasn’t just limited to school and academics, though. It also covered school-sponsored extracurricular activities including intramural, club, and varsity sports. At this time, women’s athletics were almost nonexistent and severely underfunded. Title IX opened the door for women in America to participate in sports.
With that being said, I believe women should receive equal pay in sports based on the organizations of which they are apart. Even with Title IX, women’s sports don’t receive equal pay, but they should because of the longevity of the average woman’s playing career. Equal pay encourages future women to become athletes and brings in more spectators. Not to mention, women have always continuously been discriminated against in sports.
To touch on the longevity of a woman’s playing career, according to Lucas Radbourne-Pugh from The Women’s Game, elite female athletes not only get paid less than their male counterparts, but they also have shorter careers. This is due to many women becoming mothers, lack of playing opportunities at the club level, increased susceptibility to injury, taking time off to take care of family members, and numerous other factors.
One may argue that, well, if women aren’t playing as long, why do they deserve equal pay? To refute that argument, I would like to point out that people have been justifying the high wages of male football players for years for the reason that they could lose their careers at any moment through a terrible injury. While women, on the other hand, could also lose their careers for numerous reasons, such as pregnancy and motherhood, which are the main reasons why women don’t play as long. But also, it would be silly to ignore the fact that female athletes are also prone to serious injury. Additionally, even if women’s playing careers are shorter, that’s even more of a reason for them to get equal pay since they usually don’t have as much time to accumulate money in their career as men do.
This brings me to my next point: equal pay encourages future women athletes and brings in more spectators. By telling parents and young girls that women’s sports are equally valuable and paid as much as men’s sports, you increase the chances of young girls and women feeling like they have a future career in the sport. It also leads people to begin to value the sport more by attending games and purchasing merchandise. Additionally, women’s sports are growing at a faster rate than men’s and are actually more marketable to audiences. According to The Women’s Game, “Nielsen research found that female athletes appeal to a wider variety of people“, such as mothers and families. Women are more marketable due to the fact that women score higher for traits such as inspiration, social responsibility, and healthy body image while scoring lower for undesirable traits such as aggression. This means female athletes can lead to greater exposure for companies.
This brings me to my final and biggest point: women have continuously been discriminated against in sports. Title IX wasn’t passed until 1972. To put that in perspective, that was nearly 50 years ago meaning if you’re a college student it wasn’t passed until around the time your parents were probably born. This means women’s sports haven’t been around long. To put this into another perspective the US Men’s Soccer team played their first game in 1885 while the women played their first game in 1985. That’s a 100-year difference!
Furthermore, not only have women not had access to sports for long but they also consistently received less funding and equipment. According to Lucas Radbourne-Pugh from The Women’s Game, “Female athletes have less access to training equipment, medical staff, recovery procedures, dieticians and chefs, grounds and practice pitches, travel arrangements, and assistants.” If you still aren’t convinced, check out what equipment the NCAA gave the women compared to the men during the 2021 NCAA tournament.
With all of this in mind, I’m asking you to support and encourage all female athletes. It is crucial to show young girls and women that they are valued and seen as equal in the world of sports, and it all starts with equal pay.