Why We Should Recognize Women’s Sports


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gender equal opportunity or representation

Following Girls and Women in Sports Day, I have noticed the inequalities between women and men’s athletics; unequal treatment and support for women’s sports, leading me to  question why. Why do women have to work harder for what they want? Why do women have to play harder to get the recognition they deserve? And why are they put down for doing something that “only a man can do?”

I have recently looked into some statistics from SVC athletics and noticed that during the 2018 soccer season, the women’s soccer team went 9-7-2 overall and the men’s team went 2-15-3 overall. What bothers me the most about this is the home attendance at these games. As I’ve gone to both men’s and women’s soccer games, there were always less people at the women’s games than the men’s. The women’s team scored 37 goals overall, while the men only scored 12. Although these are just numbers, we can obviously see that the women’s team did much better this season than their male counterparts. Women’s soccer was ranked 4th in conference and they didn’t get half the recognition that the men’s team did while being ranked last. More people still showed up to watch them play despite their repeated losses. We have to keep in mind that this is only one example of this and there are many more times this has happened in all sports, so why is that? Why do more people go to men’s athletic games than women’s? One answer could be that we have lived in a patriarchal society for a while now, and women don’t receive as much attention as men do. Or another  could be that women are facing gender inequality in athletics every day, and it’s not talked about as much as it should be.

There seems to be a bias towards men within the athletics world and although it may be somewhat focused on, it’s not looked at enough. In athletics, there is this misconception that women aren’t as talented as men and that’s why when a woman does something great, there is always an argument. Danielle Gibson, a softball player for the University of Arkansas, hit for the home-run cycle recently, something that has never been done before in MLB history or in NCAA Softball. Many sports reporters compared her accomplishment to MLB history and it drew up the argument that since she plays softball, it is easier to do because of certain factors that differ between the two sports. While baseball and softball fields have different field dimensions and some rules may vary, Gibson was one of the first players to hit for the home-run cycle and it is a huge accomplishment. People continue to criticize what she has done due to the fact that she is a woman and “softball isn’t as hard as baseball.” What’s wrong with this statement is that a softball is in fact harder to hit than baseball as proven by ESPN’s Sport Science video on the speed of a softball. A softball pitcher pitching a 70 mph fast-ball can reach the plate in 35 hundredths of a second, while a major- league baseball pitcher pitching a 100 mph fast-ball reaches the plate in more time. This gives the major-league baseball player hitting, more time to decide if they want to swing at that pitch or not. Leaving the softball player hitting, only 0.025 seconds to decide if they want to swing or not. This is “55 percent less time,” than a major-league baseball player has to make the decision. So I believe we should give Danielle Gibson the credit she deserves, because she may not have been able to control who was on base during her at-bats, but she was able to control when she swung and how hard she hit that ball. Next time someone wants to say that it is easier to hit a softball than a baseball, tell them to consider this video done by ESPN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEtG5KvuWs4

You can also take U.S. women’s soccer team for example of gender inequality in athletics. In 2015, they won the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which is a huge accomplishment. While they did get some recognition, they weren’t paid the same amount as the men’s national team by the United States Soccer Federation. The women on that team only made $2 million after winning the world cup, while the men made $8 million after losing in 2014. This issue was called out by the women’s team, claiming unequal pay and unfair treatment. It’s an issue of sexism that women face on and off the field every day. Most women can’t even live off of the salary they get from playing professional sports, and normally they have to work another job to support themselves.

In professional sports you’re typically paid more by how well you perform, but for softball players that’s not always the case. They do get paid based on performance, but a much smaller amount than you would expect. While there is a professional softball league and the sport is coming back for the 2020 Olympics, professional softball players’ wages are way smaller than the typical professional team. There are only four teams, and each team is limited to 20 players, with a $150,000 salary cap. For major league baseball players, there is no salary cap. Players are paid based on their ability to play, and that money comes from ticket sales, money built up in the organization, and advertisers and investors. The wage gap between softball and baseball is absolutely tremendous, and the only thing we can blame for that is the funding. Once again, more people like to watch men play sports rather than women, but most of the time women are doing the same things as men, but better.

The reason these inequalities exist are because women’s sports aren’t as attractive as men’s. Men’s sports attract more of a fan base and that’s what generates the most money.

As women, to fix this issue we should lift each other up instead of tearing each other apart for doing something extraordinary. We need to inspire each other, and take action by cheering on the female athlete. At the end of the day it’s not the skill level that we lack, but it’s the public’s interest. A little support can go a long way in today’s world, and we need the support we can get, whether it be in sports or not. Women need to encourage other women to play to the best of their abilities. Nike recently released an ad that uses the phrase “if they want to call you crazy, fine. Show them what crazy can do,” which reminds women to keep pushing barriers in sports. (You can find the ad here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whpJ19RJ4JY) This may be just an ad to some, but for me it happened to be very inspirational. It reminded me of the struggles that women face every day. What I believe is that the only way we can overcome this gender inequality is by supporting each other and bringing more attention to the greatness we produce.

Did you see our coverage of the SVC Girls and Women in Sports Day? Check it out here!