Why did the Women’s Wold Cup team get paid so much less?

 

In July of 2015, a record breaking number od Americans turned on their television to watch the US Women’s Soccer team win their third World Cup title. They were in awe while watching legends like Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd dominate their competition. While there was much celebration

after their historic win, the performance of the players and nationalism weren’t the only things that had Americans talking. After winning the World Cup title, team USA was awarded $2 million dollars. You may think that this amount of money should not be complained about but compared to the $35 million that the men’s team earned, it is completely unacceptable. The men’s team even earned themselves $8 million for reaching the round of 16 while the women’s team received a fraction of their earnings for winning the World Cup championship. With attention drawing to the Women’s National team, the door has been opened to the question, why is there a pay gap in men’s and women’s sports? Thus opens up an even bigger question. Why is there a gender pay gap at all?

The issue has sparked such an outrage  in such a short amount of time that even members of Congress have spoken out on the issue.  Jackie Speier and Linda Sanchez have took a particular interest in the issue and along with many others, have come up with a resolution to provide equal pay for professional women’s soccer players. “Whenever there’s gender pay inequity I feel compelled to speak up about it,” Speier told ThinkProgress. “This is a glaring case and I think it outraged a lot of people in this country, men and women, for being fundamentally unfair.”  According to Mary Jo Kane at the University of Minnesota, the obvious gap in pay between gender in the FIFA World Cup is part of a much bigger system of inequalities in the promotion as well as the development of all women’s sports.  This issue is such an outrage for all people, not just women because everyone knows that it is  so blatantly unfair that it cannot be ignored any longer.

The common argument for this type of case is that prize money and salaries for athletes are based off of the popularity of the sport and marketing. Some may say that men’s sports are more appealing to the general population than women’s sports, therefore they are more marketable. This is because for generations, men’s sports have been marketed and promoted all over the globe, making the teams more and more popular as time goes by and fans become attached to their favorite player or team. Women’s sports don’t have that luxury. You cant even compare how popular women’s sports would be compared to men’s if they were marketed the same way for the same amount of time. While men’s sports have received publicity for decades, women’s sports are just starting to gain attention by the media worldwide. The global coverage of women’s sports is a miniscule amount compared to the sports male counterpart. “For instance, a mere 2 percent of airtime on ESPN’s SportsCenter was devoted to women’s sports”.  If the media is not giving women’s sports the media attention that they need to gain popularity, they will never be able to build the fan base that men’s sports currently have. With those factors in mind, it could makes sense that men’s soccer more profitable than the women’s game but it still doesn’t make it right and it also doesn’t justify how juristic the gap really is.  Even though it could be justified, that wasn’t even the case when it came to the women’s World Cup.  The tournament brought in a record breaking audience with more people tuning in to watch team USA win gold than this years NBA final, Stanley Cup and World Series. With these staggering numbers and the amount of revenue that FIFA made, there should be no reason for the women to earn a fraction of the winnings as the men’s team who came nowhere close to winning.  Besides the gap in their earnings, the women’s soccer team faced other injustices during the FIFA World Cup. Despite complaints about pain and injury, all women’s teams were forced to compete the entire tournament on turf rather than grass. This is an issue that the men’s teams didn’t have to deal with. An athlete shouldn’t get paid more or treated better because they are a man or less if they are a woman. Especially if they aren’t given the same opportunities as men to prove their worth in the sports world because of gender stereotypes and the idea that the women’s game doesn’t have the same quality of play or entertainment as men. Recently one of the worlds most famous and most dominant soccer players Abby Wambach spoke out to ESPNw on the pay gap issue. She stated, the pay gap in soccer is “unfortunately something you have to accept on some level, but when you do win you then have the opportunity and the platform to start voicing your opinion about, hey you know what, this is a little too big of a pay gap.”

You can also cannot ignore the fact that gender norms are changing and more and more girls are deciding that they want to play sports more than ever before. “In the U.S., the number of girls participating in sports has increased every year for the past 25 years and 42 percent of collegiate athletes are now female.”  Sexism in sports is something that has been engrained in our minds for as long as sports have been around. Sports have been promoted as masculine and tough, qualities that society thinks only men possess. It is hard for people to change their ideas of gender to stop viewing women as delicate and fragile and men as strong and tough. It is hard for people to watch women to participate in what they believe is a masculine activity because society has taught them that sports are for men. The masses will not give women the respect they deserve because it is hard for them to see a woman as dominant. Even if a woman does get media attention as an athlete, it is most likely based on the way that she looks rather than the quality of her play. While Carli Lloyd dominated in the World Cup becoming MVP of the tournament as well as scoring the game winning goal to win gold,

Alex Morgan was honored with the cover of the FIFA video game. Although she wasn’t the team’s standout player, she was often talked about because she was the most attractive, therefore becoming the most popular. If it was a different case with males, looks wouldn’t matter, layers would gain popularity based on their skill and charisma alone.

Although there have been strides towards improvement in the acceptance and treatment of female professional athletes, there is still a long way to go to change societal views and give them the respect they deserve. The gender pay gap in sports is completely unacceptable.

 

Source:

http://thinkprogress.org/sports/2015/07/20/3681302/world-cup-pay-gap-womens-sports/

 

 

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April Commentary

“Copa America Centenaro and 2015 FIFA Corruption Case”

This fall the 100th anniversary of the premier international soccer competition for the America’s is taking place for the first time in American soil. The competition celebrates the one hundred years of the CONMEBOL (Confederation of South American Football). This will be the 45th installment of the tournament that started in 1916, where the North American soccer federation the CONCACAF will be invited to participate for the first time. It’s surely to be a huge deal as CONMEBOL President Nicolas Leoz said “Hopefully we can organize a big event, because we have 100 years and we want to celebrate big”.  In order to fully understand the importance of this competition we must look back into the rich history of the Copa America. The first edition in 1916 where Uruguay ousted Argentina 3-1 for its first of a record 15 Copa America crowns. Uruguay would dominate the 20’s and 30’s until an era of Argentine brilliance lead the Albicelestes to seven consecutive coronations in the 40’s and 50’s. Around 1964 however the exceptionalism of Brazilian soccer was demonstrated by rising stars such as Pele, Falcao, Rafinha, and Juan Guanso Lomes Perez Sousa. The Copa America usually set the tone for a successful campaign in the world cup which Uruguay and Argentina would lift twice and Brazil a record five times. The following decades would see these powerhouses battle each other for scattered titles and new up and coming challengers such as Bolivia and Peru would take the cup home each twice. Moving on to the modern era, Brazil has dominated the majority of the competition, however Uruguay claimed the title anew in 2011 and Chile won its country first Copa in 2015.

The teams participating officially announced for the tournament, CONMEBOL and CONCACAF confirmed that all ten CONMEBOL members will be joined by six CONCACAF teams in the tournament. United States and Mexico will automatically qualify. The other four spots will be given to Costa Rica, the champions of the Central American Football Union by virtue of winning the 2014 Copa Centro Americana, Jamaica, the champions of the Caribbean Football Union by virtue of winning the 2014 Caribbean Cup, and Haiti and Panama, the two play-off winners among the four highest finishers in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup not already qualified. The group seeds and match schedule were announced on 17 December 2015 the USA (Group A) were seeded as host, Argentina (Group D) were seeded as the highest FIFA-ranked team in the CONMEBOL region during December 2015. According to Soccer United Marketing, Brazil (Group B) and Mexico (Group C) were seeded as they were “the most decorated nations in the last 100 years in international competitions from their respective confederations”. However, there has been criticism for not including Uruguay, which won two World Cups and is the Copa América all-time leader with 15 championships, or Chile, which is the defending Copa América winner.

This tournament however highlights the 2015 FIFA corruption case where U.S. federal prosecutors disclosed cases of corruption by officials and associates connected with FIFA, the governing body of association football, futsal and beach soccer. On May 2015, fourteen people were indicted in connection with an investigation by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) into wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering. The United States Attorney General simultaneously announced the unsealing of the indictments and the prior guilty pleas by four football executives and two corporations. The investigation mostly revolved around collusion between officials of continental football bodies CONMEBOL and CONCACAF (Caribbean, Central and North America), and sports marketing executives. The sports marketing executives were holders of media and marketing rights for high-profile international competitions including the Americas’ FIFA World Cup qualifying tournaments, and showpiece tournaments CONCACAF Gold Cup and Copa América. CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb, also serving president of the Cayman Islands Football Association, was arrested in connection with the investigation, as were two sitting FIFA Executive Committee members: Eduardo Li of the Costa Rican Football Federation and Eugenio Figueredo, formerly of the Uruguayan Football Association, and former CONMEBOL President Nicolás Leoz. The investigation lasted several years, with the first arrest, of former CONCACAF president Jack Warner’s son Daryll, made in July 2013.In total, seven current FIFA officials were arrested at the Hotel Baur au Lac in Zürich on May 27. They were preparing to attend the 65th FIFA Congress, which was scheduled to include the election of the president of FIFA. They are expected to be extradited to the United States on suspicion of receiving US$150 million in bribes. There was also a simultaneous raid on the CONCACAF headquarters in Miami, and later, two further men handed themselves in to police for arrest: Jack Warner and marketing executive Alejandro Burzaco. Two further arrests of FIFA officials at the hotel occurred in December 2015.The arrests case triggered Australia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Germany and Switzerland to open or intensify separate criminal investigations into top FIFA officials for corruption.

In all the pending one hundred years anniversary of the Copa America is sure to captivate soccer fans around the globe. This of course doesn’t mask the huge stain on FIFA’s reputation which will need every bit of excitement and praise from the tournament to make amends to billions in racketeering and brides it’s been indicted for.

You don’t have to go home, but you can’t go there

In today’s billion dollar industry that is college sports, there is still somehow this notion that these athletes are amateurs. But with the NCAA keeping up this fallacy that these are students first why can they legally restrict their transfer to another institution? Earlier this year, the former long-time defensive coordinator at the University of Alabama decided to take the Head Coaching job at the University of Georgia. After years of success at Alabama, Kirby Smart thought the time had come to run his own program and could not pass up the opportunity to coach his alma mater. I’m not saying that Smart did not deserve the opportunity or that he should not have taken it, but rather asking the question why can a paid coach jump between schools while an unpaid player is restricted? Just after Smart took the job, a backup running back named A.J. Turman requested a release from his scholarship and wished to transfer somewhere a little closer to his home in Florida. Smart granted his request with the condition that he was not allowed to go to any SEC school, or Miami where former Georgia coach Marc Richt is currently the head coach. So not only is Turman required to sit out a year, but now has his options limited as to where he can attend school. This situation in particular is hypocritical on numerous fronts. Kirby Smart jumped to Georgia from a fellow SEC program, and Nick Saban was not able to say he couldn’t. What might be the most ironic part about it is Smart’s message to the Georgia faithful when he took the job was “It’s good to be home” yet is limiting an athlete’s options to do the same.

While football transfers are higher profile, a similar situation happened at the University of Michigan. UM graduate Spike Albrecht  was restricted as to where he could transfer even as a graduate transfer who was told the team did not have a scholarship for him next season. Not only did Albrecht not receive a true salary from a school whose basketball program brings in millions, but the program was not even providing him with a scholarship for the next season. The NCAA states very often how these are students first, yet why can’t they go wherever they want to pursue a graduate degree after their completion of undergraduate coursework? Especially if their current school does not have the graduate program that this student desires to be in.  It is understandable as to why a coach would not want their star player competing in their conference, but most of the time it’s an athlete who has not had ample playing time anyway. It’s the backup looking for an opportunity to play, a 23 year old looking to attend grad school, or a player looking to move closer to his family. If a coach can take a player’s scholarship away or choose to take a different job anywhere else, the athlete should be guaranteed the same rights as well.

Restricting transfers of college athletes has become a common practice, but why has it become accepted? There isn’t any other line of work where you have your employers blessing to take another job. Even to entertain the idea that playing collegiate sports is not a job, are there restrictions on normal students as to where they decide to transfer? I’ve never heard of a University placing a restriction on a regular student in regard to transferring, even if it’s the school’s biggest rival. So why are athletes subject to “special rules” even though the NCAA continues to state that they are students first? If they NCAA is going to go forward with the whole “students first” narrative, they need to abolish school restrictions on transfers. I understand why they may not want a free agency like system with players hopping to different schools to get the best opportunity every year, but that’s why they require the player to sit out the year after a transfer. That year alone is enough of a restriction on transfer, so there’s no need to have any more.

When I think about these rules in the context of our society, I become even more astounded that these have continued as legal. I made a point earlier about how in most instances, it is illegal for a company to not allow an employee to leave and go work for another business. Even when I think about the NFL, after a player’s contract expires they can go play wherever they please. What most people don’t know is that an athlete’s scholarship is generally only for one year. So, after that year its renewal is at the discretion of the coach. Whether or not you will be able to play your sport at that school is unknown at a certain point. Also, it is up to the discretion of a coach who might not be there the following year.

It may be beating a dead horse to once again say that college athletes should be given a stipend (or at least given permission to use their brand), but by definition they are employees of the school. Like I had said earlier, the NCAA and the individual schools always talk about how much they care about the athlete’s well being. To a certain extent they may, but frankly I believe they care about the millions of dollars some sports bring in more. For some reason, coaches sometimes see a player leaving as a threat to the advancement of his or her career. If you’re worried about them competing against you, wouldn’t you make more of an effort to keep them in your program in the first place? Overall, giving coaches the ability to restrict an athlete’s transfer to certain schools is not fair to the athlete. Keeping these young men and women locked to a program that the coach could leave at any time, for any reason just is not right and I hope that in the coming years the NCAA will remove a school’s ability to regulate transfers.

 

Will Smith’s Death and Gun Control

William Raymond Smith III was born and raised in Utica, New York. While attending Proctor High School in Utica, Smith received accomplishment such as the U.S. All-American pick and highly rated prospect in the state, according to the Prep Football Report. After high school he played college football at Ohio State from 2000-2003, helping to lead the Buckeyes to the 2002 BCS National Championship. He entered the draft in 2004 in the first round he was selected by New Orleans Saints. The Former New Orleans Saints defensive ended died in a shooting on April 9, 2016, in the Lower Garden District, New Orleans. As reported by CNN, surveillance footage reveals pieces of evidence as to what happened. The video shows a Mercedes SUV, possibly Smith’s, running into the back of a Hummer probably Cardell Hayes after an abrupt stop. Both vehicles were at a standstill for a few seconds after the contact. Then the Hummer tries to pull over to the side of the road, the Mercedes SUV speeds off around the Hummer, Moments later the Hummer trails closely behind Mercedes SUV. According to the police, an altercation occurs a short distance away, where this time the Hummer rear ends the Mercedes. Both men got out of their vehicles to exchange words, during the exchange six gunshots were fired. A bystander calls 911 reporting that “there’s a male down with about six gun wounds to the chest.” That referred to Smith. His wife was shot once in the right leg.” Four minutes after the shots the police arrive; they found Smith in the middle of the road, hanging out the vehicle bleeding to death. Smith dies at the scene. Hayes’ lawyer is claiming self-defense ; Hayes lawyer states, “That he didn’t leave — and, moreover, that he’d secured a witness who was heading out “Now, tell me if that’s the behavior that’s consistent with someone who’s an animal out here looking for blood,” Fuller said. “His actions are totally consistent with someone that is complying with a police investigation.”

A passionate and frustrated Sean Payton, the Saints head coach, publicly shared his opinion about the shooting. Not only does Payton want stricter gun control laws, but if it were up to him, we would be living in a country without guns.  Payton said, “Two hundred years from now, they’re going to look back and say, ‘What was that madness about?’ The idea that we need them to fend off intruders … people are more apt to draw them (in other situations). That’s some silly stuff we’re hanging on to.”  He goes on to talk about the fact that everyone needing a gun is absurd, and he discussed how the police in England don’t carry guns.  Later on for some peace of mind Payton got online to find out as much information about the weapon. The gun was a .45 designed during World War I. The gun can kill a person in four seconds from one shot, but Smith took six shots. This information worried Payton, and it made him reevaluate The Second Amendment.  Payton stated that “We could go online and get 10 of them, and have them shipped to our house tomorrow,” he said. “I don’t believe that was the intention when they allowed for the right for citizens to bear arms.” With Sean Payton being a high profile person, did he do the right thing by letting his emotions get the best of him causing him to dive head first into one of America’s most controversial issue? Gun control is often a popularized and contentious issue in America today. The Second Amendment to the Constitution allows citizens the right to bear arms, which many citizens hold dear. I believe he was well within his rights to comment about something he felts so close to his heart regardless of what kind of uproar it may cause. Furthermore, he should use his celebrated status to bring awareness and highlight gun control issues. Sports has usually been one of the driving forces to lead social and political change. Gun control and self-defense is an important issue that sports can spearhead to get some progress.  Right now in America the gun control topic is heating up. Matter of fact, a Bernardino mass shooting caused state lawmakers to give approval for gun control bills, which would outlaw assault rifles with removable magazine clips that hold more than ten rounds, and homemade guns need to be registered with the state. The Bernardino shooting took place in December where two terrorists killed 14 people dead and 22 wounded.  The attackers used assault rifles. But some people have opposed the gun law. One man, in particular, Ed Worley, member of the national rifle association, stated that “We continue to oppose banning guns for citizens who have no criminal background,” Worley told the panel. “People should be able to own any kind of gun they want to own in the United States of America.”  Just to play devil’s advocate even though the law prohibits the sale of a particular type of gun; criminals can still get their hands on illegal guns of just steal a gun from a family member. With all the hype with lawmakers prohibiting certain firearms and the death of Will Smith, this the best time for players and coaches to pressure the legislators in order to push for stricter gun control laws. Even if stricter gun control measures do not have an everlasting effect something was done to combat gun violence.

 

Covering the Bruises: Domestic Violence in the NFL

It was a day Ray Rice wishes he could forget. February 15, 2014. Rice and his fiancée, Janay Palmer, were in Atlantic City. After a night of drinking, the two entered an elevator at the Revel Casino. Both were highly intoxicated. Security footage from a camera in the elevator showed the two exchanging words.  In a moment of anger, Rice cold-cocked his soon-to-be wife with one swift, powerful punch to the face. It’s a moment he can never have back, one America will never forget. As if someone hit her with a ton of bricks, Janay dropped to the floor, knocked unconscious in an instant. She hit her head on the wall on the way down.

As her body lay on the ground, the elevator had reached its destination. The doors opened. The then-Baltimore Ravens’ running back dragged Janay’s limp body through the elevator doors and out into the hallway, where she would eventually receive medical attention. He hasn’t played in an NFL game since. Over two years removed from the incident, Rice remains unemployed by the league. While that elevator video from the Revel has been difficult for many people to watch, and represents some of the most reprehensible relationship behavior, domestic violence is a pressing issue for both America and its most popular sports league, yet continues to be an afterthought.

Like Ray Rice, Johnny Manziel appeared to have it all. Athletic talent, a Heisman Trophy as a freshman – he’s the youngest player to ever win the award – and an opportunity to play in the NFL. But as his popularity grew, so did Johnny’s ego. His affinity for partying is no secret. Throughout his college career and first two unsuccessful seasons as a Cleveland Brown, Manziel never shied away from the spotlight. While he hardly saw the playing field, he couldn’t stop making headlines off of it. Drug and alcohol-fueled binges became the norm. As his life looked increasingly like a rock star’s opposed to a professional athlete’s, Johnny Football the celebrity killed Johnny Manziel the football player. But for all of Manziel’s off-the-field controversies, there is one that stands above the rest in severity.

 

Manziel is accused by his ex-girlfirend, Colleen Crowley, of domestic violence.

According to Crowley, the two had broken up in December, 2015, following two years of dating. However, on the night of Jan. 29, 2016, Manziel wanted to talk.

He invited her up to his room at the Hotel ZaZa in Dallas. According to Crowley, they got into an argument, leading Manziel to hit her repeatedly. After dragging her by the hair and forcing her into a car, he slapped her head, rupturing an eardrum and causing temporary hearing loss in her left ear. The valet service didn’t react to the cries for help. On the drive to Fort Worth, Crowley said Manziel threatened to kill both of them. She was afraid for her safety and his. The incident was investigated by Dallas police and sent to a grand jury, where a decision remains pending.

Ray Rice had never been accused of character issues before. Drafted by the Baltimore Ravens out of Rutgers University in the second round as the 55th pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, he had been nothing short of a model player. No fines. No suspensions. No reason to worry. But because of that night, everything changed.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had the opportunity to make an example of Rice, to show the country that domestic violence towards women would not be tolerated.

He failed. Unexplainably, he initially suspended Ray Rice for two games. To put into sobering perspective, the league tried to suspend Tom Brady four games for allegedly deflating footballs. Apparently, the NFL cares more about PSI than protecting women.

 

If it were up to the NFL, Ray Rice would likely still be playing today. Most people wouldn’t even remember, let alone care, that he had a short suspension two years ago. But there was one unforeseen problem.The video. It was obtained from the Revel Casino and released by TMZ.  People were horrified. After a predictable public backlash, the NFL announced that it had suspended Rice indefinitely in September 2014. The images of a professional athlete as strong and powerful Rice knocking out his small, defenseless fiancée were horrific and hard to watch. He became a lightning rod for criticism, and rightfully so. But it wasn’t because of domestic violence that Ray Rice’s name will live in infamy –  not because he punched his wife. It’s because he got caught on tape. If TMZ had not released that video, people would not have been in an outrage. There would be no criticism of Roger Goodell, no one calling for a longer suspension. Rice would have served his two games and finished out his career as planned. This raises one burning question: What do people think domestic violence looks like? The women with black-eyes, bruises and broken bones didn’t do it to themselves. They did not magically appear.

Someone inflicted them. And it’s happening too often to countless women across the country who are incapable of defending themselves.

 

Johnny Manziel is lucky that there is no tape of his alleged crimes. It is almost unthinkable to recreate the images of him striking Crowley repeatedly, dragging her by the hair and hitting her so hard she became deaf for a short time. Hopefully, the NFL will learn from the public relations disaster that resulted from the mishandling of the Rice case and level a strong penalty against Manziel if he is found guilty.

The NFL is a league that prides itself on its image, one of the reasons a strict personal conduct policy has been enacted over the last decade or so.  But the actions of players reflect directly on the league. Instead of concentrating all its efforts on “protecting the shield,” the NFL needs to prioritize protecting women.

Sports Are the Most Prominent Opiate of the Masses

In America, it is evident that people look for a distraction from the real world in any sense and by any means. It is a problem that has been growing for ages due to the fact that people are afraid to face problems bestowed upon them and avoiding said problems is simply easier. In a world that is engulfed by social media with access to a multitude of sports stories, the masses use these outlets to ultimately forget the existing problems going on in society. Moreover, because of this, it goes without saying that people use sports as a scapegoat, making sports the most prominent opiate of the masses.

In accordance to the masses, the realm of opiates sole purpose is to serve as an inadvertent distraction, which by correlation formulates to an increased sense of happiness. Opiates as a whole vary from religion to entertainment to exercise to the biggest of them all, sports. The reason behind sports being the most prominent opiate to the masses impacting society takes a negative aspect, as people don’t further societal progress simply because they don’t care to do so. It is human nature to conform to societal norm to feel a sense of belongingness. In a New York Times article titled, Sports Fandom: ‘Opiate of the Masses’, they write “Sports fandom feeds a primitive human need to belong to a whole larger than the self.” In every sense of the word, people naturally are attracted to consistency with the feeling that they have a purpose. David P. Barash, psychology professor at the University of Washington, writes that, for many, “Sports spectatorship taps a primordial human instinct for belonging, much as militaristic nationalism does. It indulges the illusion of being part of something larger than ourselves and thus nurtured, understood, accepted, enlarged, empowered, gratified, protected” (New York Times). Within this idea, Brash alludes to the fact that sports as an opiate is something that is bigger than all of us. By taking away sports the idea of togetherness also starts to fade away. People that have no idea that one another exist share a common interest that for some reason automatically formulates into an everlasting bond that undermines all that don’t share said commonality. Barash adds, “one becomes part of a great beckoning, grunting, yet smoothly functioning, and, presumably, security-generating Beast. And for those involved, it apparently feels good to be thus devoured whole and to live in its belly.”

As previously stated, in accordance to David P. Barash’s, sports or the idea of sports feel good and honestly, who doesn’t like to feel good? The philosopher Karl Marx once wrote that, “It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” And in 1843, that might’ve been the case, however, in today’s day and age the use of sports is equivalent to religion back in the 19th century. It is the almighty power that unites people as one that’s brings happiness that unfortunately hinders societal progress.

For example, The National Football League has completely taken over a day of the week. Sunday after Sunday are spent countlessly wasting their day by watching football all day to get away from reality. A day that has been spent throughout the history of time as a day of religion and sin ridding has now been taken over by a corrupt organization that grosses over seven billion dollars a year. Additionally, “The NFL split a massive $7.24 billion in revenue with all 32 teams last season. Each team received $226.4 million as part of the split, most of which comes from the various television deal.” (SB Nation) Furthermore, in accordance to the NFL taking over a day of the week, “Another study published in The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion by sociologists C. Kirk Hadaway and Penny Long Marler—known for their scholarly research on the church—backs up his findings that reveals that the actual number of people worshipping each week is 17.7% of people” (Shattuck) People are forgetting what really matters and what mattered back in their primitive state. Sports as a whole are an excuse for what has progressed society. Religion has united people through commonalities that progress society through beliefs. Due to sports, that day of the week is now purely focused on a billion dollar organization that is a hindrance to society.

With acceptance and progression of LGBTQ laws and their community, leagues like the NFL have halted said progress and the masses don’t care. For example, Michael was the first openly gay athlete to declare for the draft in the National Football League. With little detail needed, “Starting the pre-draft ranked 90th by CBS Sports, it took just three hours for sports pundits to drop Sam by 70-points. Why did Sam’s sports stock drop so rapidly, moving down to 160th on their pick list? Apparently because CBS Sports knew something that I didn’t: being an openly gay man and a NFL player were not in the cards yet” (Macarow). That nature of the game revolves around men with a multitude of different beliefs and intelligence levels that formulate into a status quo that doesn’t do well with change. If franchise owners and team management sense homophobia in the stands, it is more likely that they would be likely to avoid out gay players — right or wrong. This in turn means less players coming out, less positive role models for younger LGB athletes and ultimately slower improvement in the diversity of pro teams.” (Macarow) In a business and unfortunate reasoning, if the fans don’t want it then the teams don’t need it.

“Furthermore, it becomes extremely disturbing and frightening to see people resort to violence to deal with their anger revolving around a sporting event. It happens all the time; people rioting in the streets, flipping cars, and torching buildings to protest (or even celebrate, stunningly) the outcome of a sporting event. Yet, these are the same people who would not lift a finger, never mind a firearm, to protect and defend their very liberties against those among us who seek to confiscate them and reduce us to serfdom” (Alexander Massa)

Professional sports provide people with an escape from reality. It blinds them to the real matters of the world. Such concerns like politics, taxes, and progressive civil movements truly do affect the people’s lives directly and should matter to them. Professional sports have become an opiate to the masses, allowing large numbers of us to be more easily deceived. Ultimately, perception is reality and within professional sports lays this underlying perception that sports and the feeling of purpose and belongingness are more important than societal progress.

Brady, James. “The NFL Brought in Enough Money Last Year to Pay for 10 Pluto Missions.” SBNation.com. N.p., 20 July 2015. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.

Marx, Karl. “Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right 1844.” Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right 1844. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.

Massa, Alexander. “Sports: The Opiate of the Masses.” Nolan Chart. N.p., 24 Dec. 2009. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.

Shattuck, Kelly. “7 Startling Facts: An Up Close Look at Church Attendance in America.” ChurchLeaderscom. N.p., 29 Dec. 2015. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.

“Sports Fandom: ‘Opiate of the Masses'” Idea of the Day Sports Fandom Opiate of the Masses Comments. New York Times, n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.

The US and The Olympics: Worse Than You Think

The Olympics are the world stage for countries’ most prided athletes. Superhuman-like individuals train their entire lives to earn a spot at the games, and when they do, their home country’s heart is in their hands. The Olympics however are also dark in nature as they foster an environment in which people from the host country are pushed into poverty and displaced. Natives and visitors alike are forced into human trafficking to entertain wealthy guests, and humans are overtly exploited at their own expense. The problems exist on such a scale that it would be impossible to discuss the many negative aspects of the impact of the games on innocent people. And though citizens of host countries are typically focused on, athletes too, are exploited at their detriment. This is particularly true with children representing countries with considerably ‘rogue’ or corrupt regimes, however, The United States is just as guilty.

Thailand’s favorite sport, Muay Thai has a 700 year old history, but it’s only getting darker. The sport fosters brutal fighting as fighters are, by the rules, allowed to use virtually every part of their body. Legs, arms, knees, and fists, are all tools in the vicious ring. Thailand is attempting to enter the Olympic games with Muay Thai as a sport, however, children are a crucial part of this endeavour as it requires training from birth. The children fighters are typically under the age out 16, participate in ameature games, and suffer tremendous injuries, with brain damage as a somewhat prevalent consequence.

Chinese participants are also subject to despair both during and after their participation in the Olympics. These young individuals, sometimes younger than even 16, are pressured into extreme measures such as performance enhancing drugs, and are said to be “brutalized”. According to The Nation, “Executive Director of the American Swim Coaches Association John Leonard called Shiwen’s world-record 400-meter individual medley swim “disturbing.” He is also continuing to describe her closing freestyle leg of 58.68 seconds as “impossible.”” which of course is reflective of severe practices that are to the detriment of the athlete and the benefit of the adult in charge of them. Additionally, China’s state-run system of athletics makes for a hostile and coercive environment in which children’s inherent rights are abused and ignored entirely. Many believe that China’s extreme treatment toward their athlete children is merely a means to assert China’s dominance economically, further using medal counts to show their power, “China is the chief economic rival in the world to the United States. Just like during the cold war, the Olympics have become a proxy war where “medal counts” connote more than bragging rights but are a comment on the health of a nation.” The lack of regard for children for the bettering of the country’s economic status (at the children’s expense) is in and of itself an unethical practice- especially because the Olympics enables the problem.

The issues seen in both Thailand and China make a case against the absurdly cruel treatment toward children, yet, those countries only represent a small portion of the problem. The United States, even in its ‘let freedom ring’ glory, unfairly treats the children representing them.

Children in the United States, or any athletes participating in the Olympics, have absolutely no state subsidies (unlike China) and are thus subject to a life threatening reality: poverty. This issue is often overlooked as images of American athletes tend to glamourize the sport and all that it entails, but the problems nonetheless exist. Unfortunately, the tales of sorrow are seldom told and individuals who represent The United States and stand before crowds often face severe dilemmas upon returning from their quest as an Olympic athlete, “When we hear that swimmer Ryan Lochte’s parents are facing foreclosure on their home, or that track star Lolo Jones’s family was homeless, or that gymnast Gabby Douglas was sent from her mother in Virginia Beach to live with strangers at the age of 14, those are tales of heroism and sacrifice.” and this is just as bad as a Chinese child being forced into the sport, because suffering cannot be measured. In the United States one of the most prevalent issues that arises with young athletes is abuse from coaches. This is especially true when looking at swimming, where coaches are known to “molest young swimmers and then move from town to town, escaping criminal charges and continuing to victimize other under-aged swimmer”. Again, these children are broadcasted universally looking like kids while facing very dark and adult situations. Moreover, because these coaches move frequently from town to town, it’s all too obvious that the problem is exacerbated each time their criminal abuse is not reported.

Gymnastics in The United States are a dark hole of abuse, self harm, and hopelessness for the gymnasts themselves. Like other athletes, they are trained at the youngest age possible and their lives become the sport. For some gymnasts however, the sport becomes them and they are the ones who end up in detrimental situations. Author Joan Ryan writes, “ “What I found was a story about legal, even celebrated child abuse… Girls who broke their necks and backs. One who so desperately sought the perfect, weightless gymnastic body that she starved herself to death.” describing the extreme circumstances girls face when participating in a cut throat sport. She explains that these girls literally cut themselves with dull razors, experience broken families – and links much of this to the pressure them and their families face because of the sport.

While the world loves to critique the practices of countries like China or Russia or Thailand, they need to take a step back and take a look at the globe’s superpower – The United States. Discussed in this paper were only aspects of gymnastics and swimming on the US national front, but the abuse and detriment seen in these sports can be applied across the board. Even the most ideal athletes who proceed to have reality shows like Ryan Lochte, experience severe hardship because of the mistreatment toward them. Their medals shine on stages and they later return to a harsh reality where they must face the problems of their pasts and usually, their futures as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

“Is the US Olympic System as Abusive as China’s?” The Nation. N.p., 09 Aug. 2012. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.

 

“Child Fighters Exposed to Exploitation” ESPN 05 Nov. 2013. Web. 21. Apr. 2016

Should College Athletes Be Paid?

On April 4th, the Villanova University Wildcats played the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Tar Heels in the championship game for the 2015-2016 college basketball season. The Wildcats successfully defeated the Tar Heels 77-74 on a thrilling three-point buzzer-beater to help claim their second national championship. This game was viewed by 17.8 million people that night and millions more saw the highlights after the game ended. When all this is said and done though, you have to think about how the players on this team benefit from their time at Villanova. When you look at someone like Kris Jenkins, the actual player who made the game-winning shot, what is going to get from his time at Villanova other than a quality education and an opportunity to live out his passion. Thoughts like this bring up the age-old discussion that has constantly be had about NCAA athletes; should college athletes be paid? According to Time.com, in 2009, Villanova received the equivalent of $6 million in free media publicity, and in that year, Villanova did not reach the national championship game. The fact Villanova won the championship this year makes it easy to believe that that number is set to increase over the course of this year. While it is great that Villanova, how can this success be used to benefit the student-athletes that provide this success for them?
One of the main problems that college athletes face is the fact that they are not able to provide for their families. Many college athletes come from less than affluent areas and may need money in order to help support their family back home. While some people believe that giving these athletes a free education is more than fair compensation for their time as an athlete, I believe it is not enough. Sports like football and basketball bring in far more money to these universities than these universities give back to these athletes. As a student at the University of Florida, I have spent many Saturday’s in Ben Hill Griffin cheering on my Gators as they take on their opponent. As a season ticket holder, this past season I paid $15 for each game I went to, and for the sake of the argument, let us say that everyone pays $15 to watch the game. The stadium capacity of Ben Hill Griffin is 88,548, and while I have seen this number well above 90,000, I will use the capacity as the maximum amount of people in the stadium at any given time. With this means is that for each home game that the Gators play, the university makes $1,328,220. This also does not take into account the fact the amount of money spent on food and merchandise by those at the game that day. When you factor in the fact that the Gators play seven home games a year, the University of Florida makes $9,297,540 just from ticket sales on the assumption that the game against New Mexico State is just as expensive as the game against Florida State. If you were to divide that up amongst the 85 scholarship players on the team, each one would get approximately $109,382.82. This is far more than what they receive right now in the form of a full-ride scholarship with room and board and if we were to include revenue from the merchandise sold across the world, the refreshments sold in the stadium, and payouts from bowl games and the Southeastern Conference, that number would skyrocket. Not only that, but up until very recently, the NCAA forbade athletes from getting part-time jobs, so even if they wanted to make their own money, they were not allowed to. While these athletes do have a unique ability due to their physical abilities, we have to remember that they are students at the end of the day. If a college student wants to pick up a part-time job, they have more than enough freedom to do that. Just because these athletes are going to school for free does not mean they should be limited in their off the field actions. Not only that, but other students are allowed to profit off of their skills while student-athletes are not. Let us take an engineering student for example. If an engineering student were to invent something useful to society while they were taking classes, they would have complete autonomy to control their outcome when it comes to that product. They would be able to file for a patent, sell their product to a manufacturer, and overall, make money based on their personal ability. With these athletes, they are not able to profit off of their abilities even though it is proven that their respected universities profit off of them.
Overall, it is important to remember what these athletes contribute to each of their universities. Sports like football and basketball bring millions of dollars to these universities and that money ultimately assists the university in areas outside of the athletic department. I know for myself personally, one of the reasons why I chose to attend the University of Florida was because of their fantastic athletic program. If the University of Florida did not have the athletic program that it currently does, then I would not have applied and I would be at a different university such as Penn State or Ohio State which does have the exciting and entertaining athletics that can fit my needs. The fact that athletes can go out on the field day in and day out and work their hardest for the entertainment of the masses and they cannot profit off of it just proves that we need to fix our broken system. There will come a day when this system will be corrected and all the work these players do will be rewarded, but until that day arrives, we must keep raising the issue in order to help keep it in the spotlight where it belongs and to bring justice to those who deserve it.

NBA Takes Step Towards New Advertising Opportunities

 Joseph Thiry

Sports and advertising have become integrated to a point that consumers and viewers are accustomed to. An extremely beneficial symbiotic relationship has been developed between sports and advertising due to the revenue sports accrues from ad spots and the ability a corporation has to increase brand image, brand identity and gain reach towards their target demographic. Advertising consumes almost the entirety of every sport. From the “official car of the NBA” to the “official soft drink of the NFL” the scope of advertisement on professional sports is almost unfathomable.

During the 2016 NBA All-star weekend the NBA experimented with uniform advertisement for the first time. Along with the standard Adidas manufacturer logo, a logo for the official car of the NBA, KIA also appeared on jersey near the left shoulder. This concept is not necessarily new and has been implemented internationally and also through a few U.S professional sports such as soccer and NASCAR, but avoided by professional sports such as the NFL, MBL and NBA for a long time. However, it seems that the NBA is going to venture into that realm of advertising this upcoming 2017-2018 season. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has publicly discussed the profitability and benefits of implementing ads on jerseys can bring. “It creates an additional investment in those companies in the league,” Silver said. “There’s no sponsor that’s only decision is going to be to manifest its brand just on that small patch on the uniform. Once they put their name on the jerseys that they’ll then use their media to promote the NBA extensively” (CNN). This provides an excellent economic opportunity for both the NBA and corporations that could benefit from being affiliated with the NBA. The teams are receiving 50% of the net income due to sponsorship money from jersey ads and the other 50% will go to the league’s revenue-sharing pool. This provides a huge financial opportunity to everyone involved in the corporate advertising on NBA jerseys. Well, almost everyone.

Since each individual NBA team is responsible for their sponsors, it provides unique advantages to every team due to the marketability of their players (AdWeek). Take a player like James Harden for example, a player who is notorious for his beard. If a company such as Dollar Beard Club decides to purchase an ad slot on the Houston Rocket’s jersey and outbids another individual for the ad slot due to James Harden and his beard, the Houston Rockets would profit from James Harden’s likelihood and marketability. Different players will uniquely contribute to the companies that are attracted and interested in partnerships with certain organizations. So in essence, a player can that can sell an ad spot due to their personality can actually make their franchise profit without said player playing a single minute. So that raises the question, will these players receive additional pay or receive any compensation for their likelihood? Or will the player’s value go up due to their marketability? Previously, a player’s worth or amount they receive through a contract surrounded primarily around skill level and the ability to perform in the game. This new ad stream will do one of two things. Either the NBA player’s worth with raise correspondingly to their popularity and skill levels or the player should receive some sort of compensation for the high levels of advertising dollars they attract. It will be extremely interesting to see the reactions of players along with how player’s worth is fluctuated when jersey ads are active.

All the revenue generated by these advertisement slots seems extremely appealing and is the best interest for both the NBA and corporate entities that wish to purchase publications. However, how will these effect public perceptions for beloved NBA teams impact existing memorabilia and jersey sales? Franchises that will endorse and represent particular corporations can either draw attention or become an eyesore on an individual’s favorite team depending on the corporation. It has been stated that the individual franchise will possess the power to sell their branded jerseys along with the standard jerseys. However, these advertisement jerseys will only be available through the franchise store, retail distribution will remain ineligible to sell advertisement jerseys (CNN). This can drastically alter the jersey market by emphasizing and pushing consumers to purchase jerseys directly from the franchise store instead of retail stores. Certain brands have such a strong brand image and following, it can ultimately alter the way franchise swag is distributed and sold as we know it. Exclusive jersey sales that aren’t available in retailers can catalyze cannibalism within retail and continue to shift the entire venue of market from in store to online cutting out distributors. This will also increase profitability for each individual franchise adding to the reasons for advertising jersey integration.

The continuation and implementation of selling these advertisement slots on jerseys and making these jerseys readily available purchase, poses an opportunity for exponential amounts of change within the economic structure of the NBA. It will be extremely interesting to see how popular these jerseys will be. Since the official manufacturer contract for the NBA will change from Adidas to Nike, it will be interesting to see the artistic style Nike will use to make these advertisements sexy and aesthetically appealing. The upcoming 2017-2018 season will be a test run and example that will be examined extremely close by the other national sport leagues that do not capitalize on the empty space available on their player’s jerseys. I argue that this is not the last time you will see jersey advertising integration and this will be the footprint and catalyst that other professional leagues will begin applying. However, the NBA is in the early stages of implementation and will have plenty of details to iron out. As time continues I would not be surprised if the distribution of wealth amongst the league, franchise and team players will vary several times due to the variance of revenue certain players can provide due to their marketability exploits different corporations can utilize. As an advertising major, it is exciting to see the new avenues and streams becoming readily available In the field of advertising. However, although this idea is not a new concept it is new to the NBA and needs to be assessed and fine tuned delicately, taking all the corporate, league, franchise and NBA players into consideration.

 

 

 

Resources:

 

Season, During The 2017-2018. “NBA Becomes First Major US Sports League to Allow Ads on Jerseys.” CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 15 Apr. 2016. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

 

Birkner, Christine. “Brands Can Sponsor NBA Jerseys Starting Next Season.” AdWeek. 15 Apr. 2016. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.