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“Through the Wire” Addresses Inequalities for Female Athletes

While millions of Americans tuned in, the United States’ Women’s Soccer team dominated in the 2015 World Cup, defeating the world’s top women’s teams such as China and Germany, finally beating Japan 5-2 in the Finals. So what does this mean for women’s soccer and professional women’s athletics in general? That is the question Director of Multicultural Programs Jeffrey Smith Jr. posed during last Tuesday’s Through the Wire Campus Conversation: USA! Women’s 2015 World Cup Champions!

While playing video highlights of these athletes’ extraordinary abilities, Smith recounted his own experience of watching these games at home. He told us how he and his father, who ritualistically sat watching American football games together, began watching these women’s games as the US women’s team took off in the World Cup. They were getting just as excited watching this soccer game as they usually would for football.

“I just feel like that really means something,” Smith said.

Smith and his family were not the only ones experiencing this phenomenon. The US women’s team became a household name in the American media, as the Women’s World Cup Final was viewed by a record 26.7 million people, the most viewed soccer game in American television history.

Despite this record viewership and their growing celebrity, the US women’s team still only make one third of the salary of the US men’s Revolution team. This doesn’t make much sense, considering the Revolution has never had half the fan following that the Women’s US team now has.

This is the same across the board in professional sports, with male athletes almost always making more than their female counterparts. NFL players, for example, make millions of dollars per year, despite the NFL’s status as a non-profit organization.

Another topic of discussion was the different ways in which male and female athletes use their fame. Male athletes are rarely seen in the media talking about anything other than the sport and their career. Female athletes on the other hand tend to use their fame as a pedestal to speak out about topics which are important to them. Abby Wambach has used her position on the US Women’s Soccer team to speak out in the media on the topic of LGBT rights.

The way that the media treats female athletes as opposed to male athletes was also discussed. The mainstream media tends to over sexualize female athletes in a way that we don’t see with their male counterparts. A female athlete could make the winning shot in a game, and the next day the media would be talking about how exposed she looked playing in a sports bra, or the length of her shorts.

One point which the members of the discussion dwelled on was the importance of representation. The success of the US Women’s Soccer team has created representation for women in professional soccer. The representation of women in any field shows young girls that they are capable of achieving the same. Therefore this win at the 2015 World Cup has a lasting effect on the future of women’s soccer, as young girls will see these successful female athletes and chase this career for themselves. The same example is set by female athletes in other sports, such as Venus and Serena Williams, who have become sensations in professional women’s tennis, as well as in pop culture.

The World Cup only happens once every four years, however the teams notoriety has proved that women’s athletics can bring in just as many viewers as the men’s teams. Hopefully this will create more opportunities for the US Women’s Team, as well as other professional female athletes, to compete on the national and international scale.

Posted by on October 12, 2015. Filed under Clubs & Organizations. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.