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/

 

 

Concussions and the NFL

What is a concussion? It can be defined as an injury-induced change in mental function or awareness level that can occur without obvious damage to brain structures, lasts less than 6 hours and may cause a loss of consciousness.

Over the past two seasons, 306 NFL players have suffered over 323 concussions. Of all the NFL players who are being sidelined to concussions, the burden has come mainly to wide receivers and cornerbacks who have calculated more concussions than any other position. The most compelling issue with concussions and the NFL is that there are not enough protective measures to keep athletes safe.  Data from the American Academy of Neurology has shown that while every head injury is different, an athlete is most at-risk of a re-occurring injury within the first ten days after the initial injury.  Often times, a player will sustain a head injury in the first half of the game only to return to play after half time.  Obviously, this puts an athlete at even greater risk of sustaining a more serious injury, as well as increasing the risk of having complications later in life.  Within the first month of the NFL season, 15 different players have been put on the injured list for concussions. Of these 15 players, 12 have returned to the field after only a week of recovery.  The most concerning part about head related injury, especially when an athlete returns to soon, is the risk for serious complications in life after football.

Long Term Affects

With years of research and a lot of skepticism, the NFL has recently acknowledged the link between concussions and what is called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in NFL players.  Jeff Miller, who is the NFLs senior VP for health and safety, confirmed that football related head trauma can lead to this new found disease.  A prominent doctor at Boston University also confirmed this saying that she diagnosed CTE in 90 out of 94 former NFL players that she has examined.

What is CTE?

CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes with a history of repetitive brain trauma. This trauma, resulting from repetitive hits to the head, triggers progressive degeneration of brain tissue as well as the build up of a strange protein called tau. The symptoms of this disease are memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression and dementia later on.

The Controversy

Starting in the early 2000s, the NFL would not acknowledge the existence of CTE or the link between the disease and injuries sustained by football players. For fear of losing income, the NFL downplayed the disease, subsequently increasing the number of football players sustaining multiple injuries to the head.  Despite the staggering amount of research and evidence suggesting otherwise, in 2005 the NFL stated that “no player had ever suffered chronic brain damage as a result of repeat concussions” as well as stating that “Professional football players do not sustain frequent repetitive blows to the brain on a regular basis”.  One can question these statements by merely looking at the numbers. In the same year, NFL players had sustained 271 concussions, which was a 31.6% increase from the year before. They then repealed these statements saying that “it is quite obvious from the medical research that’s been done that concussions can lead to long term problems”. Because of the negligence of the NFL to keep their players safe, and to keep them aware of the risks of the sport, over 5,000 players decided to sue the league for the head injuries that they had sustained. After almost a decade of denial and skeptism, the NFL is finally acknowledging the link between football related head injuries and CTE, but the question now is, should the NFL compensate them?

The Lawsuit

The decision for over 5,000 current and former NFL players to sue the league caused a lot of controversy. While the NFL tried to downplay the severity of neurological problems like CTE saying that the evidence was inflated and that “the actuaries’ models do not reflect a prediction of the numbers of players who will suffer injuries” the court was still able to grant a claim based on the staggering evidence given. After football injuries, players had a 0.8 percent of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia. The average person has only a 0.1 percent chance. The gap between players and people in general widens more and more with increasing age. Research acquired also shows that 28 percent of all NFL players will develop a long tern brain related injury or disease.  Based on this evidence, they came to the conclusion to establish a pool od $675 million dollars to cover head related injuries and disease caused by repetitive injuries occurring during their NFL football careers. While this is a substantial amount of money, some still believe that it is not enough to compensate for the medical care needed for head trauma. Eventually, the NFL agreed to pay a total of $800 million in compensation. Another term in the lawsuit is the sliding scale for compensation based on the age of the player in question along with the number of years that the athlete has participated. With this system, players who have participated for ten years would receive more than someone who competed for 5.  So many players are being affected by long term neurological problems that it is estimated that 90 percent of all retired NFL players will file for a claim. Christopher Seeger, one of the head lawyers stated, “This report paints a startling picture of how prevalent neurocognitive diseases are among retired N.F.L. players, and underscores why class members should immediately register for this settlement’s benefits,”

Clearly the efforts of the NFL to brush these issues under the rug along with their negligence to address the link between repetitive blows to the head and neurological diseases such as CTE have caused a lot of controversy.  Because of their inability to inform players about these types of issues, they are left in the dark about the risks of the game and are now facing the consequence.

Why is this relevant in society?

Since the NFL is no longer denying the link between head injuries occurring in football and long term brain issues, parents will be more hesitant to let their kids play football. One woman who’s son suffered from CTE is starting a petition to stop children that are younger than 14 from playing in youth football leagues. She states “I didn’t sign my son up to get a brain disease”. These kids of feelings can spread among parents for the fear of their young ones having long term effects from participating in youth and high school football. Knowing what we know now about concussions and diseases like CTE parents have to wonder, is it worth the risk?

 

Cites:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/the-nfls-concussion-problem-still-has-not-gone-away/http://www.bu.edu/cte/about/what-is-cte/http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/13/sports/football/actuarial-reports-in-nfl-concussion-deal-are-released.html?_r=0http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/20/opinions/jones-football-kids-concussions/