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Gender Inequity in Sports

Owed to Stephanie Labbe: Fixing the Gender Inequity in Sports

It’s time to put men and women on the same playing field.

Equal pay for equal play is a mantra finally receiving real attention

Not a single male player is on or is permitted to play on any professional women’s team. Soccer, the new media darling of female sports is the classic model. Man oh man, that women’s team is good. They generated over a hundred million and were paid a minimum $170,000 each. Reserve and lower tier professional men’s players could only dream of these salaries. Yet, they are not even permitted to try out for this exclusive girls’ club.

Not only are the women paid better, they are far better promoted than the men.

David Beckham, a soccer super star gets thrown shade having to wear soccer warm ups, shrunk like a child, and is overlain with advertisement. Alex Morgan gets to show off her athleticism in a bikini.

College soccer is a glaring example of this gender inequity. In order to satisfy Title IX equity, colleges field a women’s DI team to keep men’s football or basketball DI. Yet, those colleges won’t support a men’s side. The boys are relegated to club teams. Letting the men try out for the women’s team or using the women’s gate income to support a men’s side would solve this clear gender inequity.

Could the guys make the women’s team? Given the friendly thrashing of the women’s national team by 15 year old boys, it seems at least likely. Yeah, I know it was a fun event for the lads to hang about with true stars and it was all promotional stuff. Still, it was an easy go for the boys.

I’m a soccer fan. I love the women’s side and pray they keep moving up the pay ladder. But, hey, let’s be equitable and open those shuttered doors. Give the men the same chance to join in. Maybe it’s time for some men entitlement.

Look, equity is not the issue. It can’t be. A cliché we have in soccer is “Fair Play.” It is fairness the women really seek. I’ve coached women’s soccer for many years. They are as hard working, skilled, and focused as any of the men’s teams I’ve coached. The National Women’s Team has brought fans and interest to the game as much as, if not more, than the men.

The most famous story of a woman trying out for a men’s side is Stephanie Labbé, the National Canadian Women’s goal keeper. See her story here. She tried out and made the “Calgary Foothills Premier Development League — a minor league that serves as a feeder for MLS.” Nevertheless, after making the team, she was disbarred from playing. A club decision that was clearly unfair.

What is fair is that women’s sports deserve the same rewards as the men. That is fairness not equity. To be rewarded fairly is not to be rewarded equitably. You might moan about Lionel Messi making millions for blasting goals, but he can and you and I can’t. That’s equity. It’s fair that Messi makes those millions as he has the tools to do it. Letting men try out and play on women’s teams would be equitable, but it’s not fair.

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