Revenue is good because it equals success. That’s kind of the entire premise of capitalism. It’s also true that (ideally) in our democracy, all people are created equal and are entitled to have equal rights and experiences.
In the long history of injustice in the United States, both perceived and real, people have stepped up to fight for equality. One of the latest in this lineage is the US Women’s National Soccer team. You might also know them as the team that slays on the regular in both the Olympics and Women’s World Cup. They’ve won three World Cups since 1991, and won the gold medal at the 1996, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.
Now, compare them to the US Men’s National Soccer team, who by comparison are basically a heaping pile of dog mess when it comes to international competition. Those clowns haven’t made it past the quarterfinal round of the World Cup in more than 85 years, and haven’t even qualified for the past two Olympic Games.
In spite of this discrepancy in performance, the women are earning much less than their male counterparts, according to reports. Not only that, the success of the USWNT has generated tremendous revenue, both through television and sold-out matches at football stadiums so large that they could probably never justifiably host a USMNT match here in the good ol’ US of A. Last year, the women pulled in over $6 million in profit after expenses, while the men corralled just over $2 million, according to a report in the New York Times.
These numbers were cited by many members of the women’s team, including goalie Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, when they filed a wage discrimination complaint in order to gain equitable wages. The women’s team has not taken a threat to boycott the upcoming 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro off of the table if they aren’t compensated properly. Win or lose in their recent complaint, here are 5 reasons why just filing it will be a good thing in the long run for the USWNT, and for American women in general.
#1. It will bring even more eyes on soccer in the United States
Shortly after their 2015 World Cup victory, the women’s team took a “victory tour” playing games against International opponents. The first game of the late-summer tour was at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field on August 16 in front of 44,028 paid spectators. The team’s continued success, combined with the insanely high-profile news coverage they are now getting in their wage discrimination complaint, will only continue to make the sport grow among American fans who will want to see their heroes on television and at a massive nearby stadium.
#2. Equal pay for women is a larger societal issue and high-profile athletes can help to enact change
Hillary Clinton, at a recent roundtable discussion on equal pay for women in New York, used the women’s soccer team as a prime example of wage inequality to make a point in the sizzling national debate over wage disparity between gender. It’s a good look for the movement when some of the most recognizable female athletes in the world can further their cause via the frontrunner for the Democratic Presidential nomination.
#3. It could help renew dwindling interest in the upcoming Olympics
And the Rio de Janeiro Olympics have been associated with some bad press according to some of the events and news reports leading up to this summer’s Games. Zika, a political scandal, a recession and downright derelict conditions have been hanging over Rio’s heads in recent months as eyes begin to shift there for the Games. If the women use their non-participation in the Games as a bargaining chip, and then end up playing in them after all once they receive some promise of triumph, it could shift a surging audience of interested eyes squarely on Brazil this summer.
#4. It will continue to grow interest and visibility in women’s soccer, which is already the most popular US women’s sport and is more popular in the United States than men’s soccer
The USWNT’s 5-2 victory over Japan in the 2015 World Cup final was watched by 25.4 million people, shattering records for a soccer match being watched by an English-speaking audience – either men’s or women’s. And, this audience was unusual in the sense that as the game became more of a blowout, more people tuned in and stayed locked on until the end of the match. This shows a level of dedication and interest that will very likely skyrocket as these women fight for their own rights to coincide with their daring taking place on the field. Talk about building a loyal fan base.
#5. The continued exposure of the USWNT in both International competition and civil rights will encourage young fans to get involved in the game
The team is not taking its rabid — and increasingly younger– fans for granted. Just prior to the 2015 World Cup, the USWNT started a social media campaign using the hashtag #SheBelieves as an effort to get young fans involved in the team’s mission, and also to encourage youth to be the best they could be in following their dreams. Becoming positive role models in their fight for gender equality will go a long way in delivering their message with substance and resonating beyond what could be otherwise empty social media campaigns.