Aurora C. Idaho

Equal Treatment for Female Athletes

Female athletes work just as hard to excel in sports, yet when it comes to paying them or giving them equal treatment, it's extremely unfair to the women to get what they are getting.

Dear Future President

LeBron James is paid 77 million dollars a year to play basketball. If you look down a current list of the highest paid athletes, not a single woman shows up until 40th place. She makes less than half of what James makes. There are only two women in the top 100 for highest pay. According to Forbes, the average player in the NBA makes $4.9 million, while athletes in the WNBA make only $72,000 on average. The average professional male basketball player makes over 68 times as much as professional women make in the WNBA. This is not a good thing. While women’s rights have improved tremendously in recent years, female professional athletes deserve far more than what they are receiving right now. This is obviously an issue that is unfair to women, it’s also something that could very well be a cause of stereotypical lack of interest in sports in young American girls.

After the women’s World Cup in 2015, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Hope Solo filed a complaint against US. Soccer, their “boss”, demanding equal pay between genders for soccer. The women’s team has won the world cup three times since the event was opened to women in 1992, and the USMNT (United States Men’s National Team) hasn’t gotten past the quarterfinals in the modern men’s world cup. Players on the women’s national team earn $99,000 each if they win all of their 20 international “friendlies” (what each national team plays outside of tournaments), while male players on the UWMNT could earn over $200,000 if they won all of their games, but $100,000 if they lost every single international match. Also, women don’t get paid for additional matches added to the schedule, while men can get paid over $5,000 for every game beyond the allotted 20. Why is the women’s team not making as much while doing much better internationally than their male counterparts if they are the most successful team in the world? With three world cups and four Olympic golds under their belts, shouldn’t they be payed more than a men’s team that - according to Hope Solo, former USWNT goalkeeper - “...get paid to just show up than we do to win major championships”?

The highest paid male athlete in the world is Cristiano Ronaldo, a Portuguese soccer player who makes his money from playing for Real Madrid in Spain. He earns around $88 million a year according to Forbes ($56 million from salary/winnings, $32 million from endorsements). The best-paid female athlete - Serena Williams - earns only 28.9 million dollars a year. That’s only about 33% of what Ronaldo makes. We can’t change what other countries pay their athletes, but we can at least make it better here in the United States. According to ESPN, the highest paid player in the NWHL (National Women’s Hockey League) is Amanda Kessel, and she’s paid $26,000 a year. The top paid NHL player - according to Forbes - is Sidney Crosby, who’s being paid $16.5 million, and that’s just his salary and winnings. Kessel is making around 0.1% of what Crosby is making! In the MLS, the average salary is $316,777.33 according to espnfc. Meanwhile, the average player in the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) is making around $37,800 a year. Why is the pay gap this big? We really need to shrink this gap, and the numbers show it.

Another big reason we need to pay female professional athletes more is the fact that this is affecting our population of young girls. Think about it for a minute. If you ask a little boy what he wants to be, quite a few will say NFL player or NBA player. If you ask a little girl, there is a very low probability that she will say that she wants to go pro in sports. By the time a girl actually sees a female professional athlete, the chances are high that she is too old to start the sport and be successful. According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, “... if a girl does not participate in sports by the time she is 10, there is less than a 10% chance that she will be participating when she is 25.” This means that by the time girls actually find out about women’s pro sports, it’s too late for them to have a good chance of playing it later on. It’s not that girls have a lower interest in sports, it’s just that they aren’t exposed to what they could do in the future. If you pay them more, more will try to get top spots, making it a bigger sport and letting the programs explode. Little girls would notice and be inspired by these women.

It isn’t just matter of being fair. This is something that could change the future of the world. If we as a country change this for ourselves, it could spur a change all over the world in women’s rights. Wouldn’t it be great to see this change? We need to change the pay of female athletes to change the futures of our young girls.

Sincerely, Aurora