Silly Reporting Distracts Everyone from Sports’ Problem with Women Athletes

This article happened in The Guardian today “Tension in the NWSL: can the league and players live together in harmony?”. The title alone is all wrong, but the whole thing completely misses the point! Women must fight for every dollar, field, broadcast and right to play sports. If the U.S. WNT, the #1 ranked soccer team in a deep field of women’s teams, find it hard to achieve equality can you even imagine how difficult it is for lesser ranked, barely funded women’s teams in other parts of the world? (See: Gender Discrimination in Soccer: U.S. WNT Stands Up for Itself, Again).

Harmony only benefits the status quo, harmony does not = justice, harmony cannot be the norm when women are still playing on turf fields. Earlier this year, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) “increased its minimum salary from $6,842 in 2015 to $7,200 in 2016. The league’s maximum salary — which applied to both domestic and international players outside of those whose salaries are subsidized by a federation — increased from $37,800 to $39,700” (The Equalizer, April 1 2016). Do these numbers astound you? They astound me. This chart, by The Atlas, will astound you even more: Minimum salaries for professional US sports players.

The numbers truly speak for themselves. The double standard is glaringly apparent. And the main concern in the above mentioned The Guardian article is if NWSL players should be using twitter or not to voice their concerns? Yowsa. Move over and be quiet buddy.

Many years ago The Walrus did an enlightening article about Christine Sinclair: “The Game Not Played – Christine Sinclair, the greatest female soccer player in the world, won’t get the career she deserves”. While some may take issue with the writer skirting around Sinclair’s sexual orientation, the article in and of itself makes the most important point, which is that she will not get the career she deserves because of sexism (and the slow investment in women’s soccer in Canada).

I will leave you with one final thing in this post, which is brought to you by SB Nation: “NWSL has survived longer than any other women’s soccer league. When do players get paid? – The ever-elusive fourth year has arrived. NWSL’s players have done their part in helping the league establish itself and start growing. Now they wait for a living wage.”  This is an article done right. It gives context, it gives hard data, it provides the issues, and it leaves no doubt that the system is not set-up to see women athletes truly succeed and be properly compensated for their dedication, talent and contribution to soccer and sports in general.

It, obviously, aggravates me to no end when mainstream media frame the issues in such a superficial, silly and lazy way. Here’s hoping articles like these become non-existent.

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Toronto FC vs Columbus Crew: Thoughts, Pictures

On Saturday, May 21 myself and fifteen other friends and acquaintances were at BMO Field to see TFC take on Columbus. I figured it would be an even match and I wasn’t disappointed. There were close calls, a few breakaways, some silly defending decisions and late attempts to get the W. Ultimately it ended in a 0 – 0 draw, but it was fun times all around.

In 2012 when I watched TFC play for the first time, the quality was awful. No sense of possession play, no creativity, bad decision-making, no cohesiveness. I was left with a bad impression of Major League Soccer (MLS) from both teams as neither could produce smart, professional soccer. Fast forward to 2016 and things are so much better. TFC has a consistent coach, players who fit the culture of MLS and better defending. The upgrades to the stadium are also dynamite, seeing a grass soccer field of such calibre makes me giddy.

However, the thing I wish for more than anything is a National Women’s Soccer League expansion team in Toronto to complement the men’s side. It feels like it’s the right time especially considering one of the best players in the world – Christine Sinclair – is Canadian. I just want to see women’s soccer live with the same frequency and access as men’s … is that too much to ask?

All pictures © Cristina Murano

The Out Field: Gay Athletes Talk About Pro Sports

Came across this video today that was put together by People Magazine. Athletes featured (in order of appearance): Michael Sam (Gridiron Football), Wade Davis II (Gridiron Football), Billy Bean (Baseball), Brittney Griner (Basketball), Lianne Sanderson (Soccer), and Joanna Lohman (Soccer).

The video was published in May 2014, on the heels of Michael Sam‘s historic draft into the NFL by the St. Louis Rams. Since then, Sam has been released by the Rams and is currently on the practice squad for the Dallas Cowboys. Wade Davis II is the Executive Director of the You Can Play Project, Billy Bean retired from baseball in 1995 and in July 2014 was hired by the MLB as an ambassador for inclusion, Brittney Griner was the #1 WBNA Draft Pick in 2013 and recently won the 2014 WNBA Championship with the Phoenix Mercury, and Lianne Sanderson and Joanna Lohman both play professional soccer in the National Women’s Soccer League for the Boston Breakers (and are a couple!). They founded JoLi Academy and are a part of the GO! Athletes Network.