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The Issue of Gender Discrimination for Female Athletes

Sports is not solely a man’s game. It is equally a woman’s game. Female athletes face more obstacles than their male counterparts.

There is no criticism of men’s appearance, temper, or ability compared to the criticism female athletes receive.

If a woman is emotional, she’s labeled “dramatic”. If a woman gains weight, she is pregnant. If a woman seeks equal pay to a man, she’s delusional.

Recognition for female athletes should consist of their expertise and ability alike male athletes. Female athletes and their supporters are calling for the end of institutionalized gender discrimination in sports.

With a combination of legal action, a Nike ad, female recognition in sports, and fan’s support, strides are made towards a more inclusive world of sports that the world has never seen before.

The highest-paid female athlete is tennis player, Serena Williams. According to Forbes, she has a total earning of $18.1 million dollars in 2018. If you compare her earnings to Forbes’s highest-paid male athletes, she wouldn’t even make the top 100.

On this list, you would find four male tennis players, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Kei Nishikori, and Novak Djokovic, who all make significantly more than Serena Williams. Even though she is the highest paid in her gender, she doesn’t come close to earnings of highest-paid male athletes, even those in the same sport as hers.

The United States Women’s National Soccer Team’s (USWNT) 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup against Japan became the highest viewed soccer game in U.S. history. FIFA reports that 750 million TV viewers tuned into the female soccer match.

Even with the women’s soccer team being able to garner record-breaking views, women are still disproportionately paid to U.S. male soccer players. Per game, women could make up to $99,000 to as little as $4,950. When it comes to men’s pay rate, they could make up to $263,320 and a minimum of $13,166.

Both the maximum and minimum pay rates are more than women’s rates. In March of 2019, USWNT filed a lawsuit against U.S. Soccer. They allege that because of gender discrimination, it “ not only [affects] their paychecks but also where they play and how often, how they train, the medical treatment and coaching they receive, and even how they travel to matches.”

After three World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals, women soccer players still attain unequal status to male soccer players.

A woman-centered Nike ‘just do it” ad featured the U.S. National Women’s Soccer team, along with tennis player Serena Williams, gymnast Simone Biles, snowboarder Chloe Kim, runner Caster Semenya, and many others. It debuted at the 2019 Oscars and garnered a fairly positive reaction. On YouTube, it has 13,000 dislikes and 62,000 likes.

With narration by Serena Williams, it shows clips of established and aspiring female athletes throughout the advertisement. It featured monumental moments in sports such a woman competing in a hijab, coaching an NBA team, dunking in basketball, or running a marathon.

Nike empowered women by challenging gender discrimination head-on with the slogan:  “It’s only crazy until you do it.” These were all accomplishments that were once believed to be “crazy” to achieve, but these women accomplished the impossible. Women are capable of achieving greatness and have proven it time and time again.

We must recognize that sports are for everyone, but we must also recognize the struggles that female athletes experience getting where they are today.

By: Vivianna Shields

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