Lawsuits and push notifications: The gender gap and sports

By Richard Pryor III
Executive Staff

Earlier this week, I received a push notification from my app version of The New York Times – only three months before the start of the Women’s World Cup, 28 players on the US Women’s National Soccer Team sued the US Soccer Federation (USSF), alleging “institutionalized gender discrimination” in USSF, primarily through lack of pay equity and worse working conditions.

While this has been in the offing for a while, this is still no less important. The players filing the suit are some of the most recognized in the world – Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, and Megan Rapinoe amongst others. This isn’t just a soccer problem, either. In 2015, Diana Taurasi of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, the league’s reigning MVP, took the season off to rest for her season that winter in Europe.

At that time, the Mercury paid Taurasi just over one hundred thousand dollars per year, close to the league maximum. Comparatively, her contract with her team in Europe, UMMC Ekaterinburg, paid out in $1.5 million per season. By playing in Europe, she earned over ten times what she earned in America. What was that about equality for all?

In their article “The Gender Gap in Sport Performance: Equity Influences Equality,” Laura Capranica and her colleagues pose the question about their various countries at the end – “What is an Olympic Gold medal “worth” in your country for male versus female athletes?”

For the United States, while they note that the prize offered by the US Olympic Committee is equal, “unfortunately, a female athlete’s appearance and popularity of her sport may dictate what an Olympic gold medal is really ‘worth.’ Thus, the real value of a gold medal is highly variable.”

The fixing of this gender pay gap requires increased investment. For example, the WNBA has only 12 teams compared to the NBA’s 30. Additionally, the WNBA teams play 34 games to the NBA’s 82 in the regular season.

This seems like a lot. But this situation requires a quick shot of a lot of capital. If not, this situation will continue. And with that, probably more lawsuits and push notifications.