By Ken Reed
On March 8th, the women’s national soccer team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer. They are fighting for equal treatment in pay and working conditions relative to the men’s national soccer team. The suit was filed three months before they play the World Cup in France.
The 28 members of the women’s national team state in their suit that:
“the net profit for the WNT (women’s national team) outstripped net profit for the MNT (men’s national team) because the female players on the WNT were more successful in competition than the male players on the MNT — while being paid substantially less.”
The women have been vastly more successful on the field than the men, having won three World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals. The men have zero on both counts. Just as importantly, for the purposes of this lawsuit, the women have brought in substantially more revenue than the men. In 2016, according to the lawsuit, US Soccer budgeted for a combined net loss for both teams of $429,929, but largely due to the on-field and economic success of the women’s team, US Soccer revised its projections to a $17.7 million profit.
The lawsuit reaches beyond pay equity issues to include differences in playing conditions, along with travel disparities between the men’s and women’s national teams. In 2017, two percent of MNT games were played on artificial turf. Meanwhile, 21 percent of WNT games were on artificial turf. (Playing sports on artificial surfaces results in more injuries than what occurs when playing on natural grass surfaces.) In addition, while traveling, the MNT flew charter flights 17 times while the women’s team never flew a charter flight.
There have been some recent breakthroughs for the women’s team. In late March, Luna Bar, a subsidiary of Clif Bar, announced a donation of $718,750 to the women’s team so WNT players would no longer be making $31,250 less than their male counterparts. Adidas also announced it will give women the same bonus as men for winning the World Cup.
While those are great moves by Luna Bar and Adidas, they are short-term fixes to the problem. The WNT players hope their discrimination lawsuit leads to long-term equality in a variety of areas, not just pay.
“We might not see equal pay among athletes within our generation,” Alex Morgan, a striker for the team told Reuters, “but the hope is that the future generations will.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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