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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“Seeing Red” From The Walrus March 2012

“No other sport reveals a country’s soul as well as soccer does (yeah, we said it, Don Cherry). So what does our neglect of the beautiful game say about us? A patriot explains why it should be Canada’s national sport”.

Article by Richard Poplak: thewalrus.ca/seeing-red

The Walrus: The Game Not Played

The Walrus is a magazine that “launched in September 2003 with a straightforward mandate: to be a national general interest magazine about Canada and its place in the world. We are committed to presenting the best work by the best writers and artists from Canada and elsewhere, on a wide range of topics for curious readers” (taken from The Walrus: http://thewalrus.ca/about-us).

While talking with a friend about the state of women’s soccer in Canada, she told me about an article in the June 2013 issue of The Walrus that profiles Christine Sinclair and the local/international context of which her soccer career exists in.

The article is an interesting read, as is the podcast between The Walrus’ Chris Berube and the writer of “The Game Not Played” Richard Poplak, who speak further about Poplak’s approach to the article and interviewing Christine Sinclair. Links to both can be found below.

The Walrus: June 2013 Issue “The Game Not Played: Christine Sinclair, the greatest female soccer player in the world, won’t get the career she deserves”.

The Walrus Podcast: “#6: The Game Not Played”.