July 13, 2015 at 2:20 PM

Women and Sports

July 13, 2015 at 2:20 PM

I congratulate Team USA on their victory in the FIFA women’s World Cup of soccer.  In front of 53,000 fans, the American side defeated the team from Japan with a final score of 5-2.  Fans clearly took great interest in the tournament.  According to the Globe and Mail, the games attracted high television ratings, and as for paid attendance, over 50,000 fans attended each of the four games at BC Place in Vancouver while overall, 985,000 filled stadiums all over Canada.[1] The most gratifying aspect of the tournament was the large number of mothers and sisters who took young girls to the games, showing them that if she wants, a woman can be a sports star.  Certainly the tournament will inspire girls to go out and play any sport, not only soccer.

These girls in the stands at the championship game watched US player Carli Lloyd scored a hat trick.  Had a male player achieved the same feat in the men’s World Cup, today his name would be splashed all over newspapers, television, and the Internet, whereas a woman receives a round of applause.  Indeed, the women on the victorious US team will take home two million in prize money, while teams in the men’s World Cup earned eight million – for losing in the third round.  All of which shows everyone that still, when men play sports, it’s a profession; when women play sports, it’s a freak show.  In general, women in sports receive less pay and less acclaim, at the same time as they struggle with sexism and a ridiculous homophobia.  Back in the 1920s, although she could throw a football fifty yards, the contemporary sportswriters grumbled that the accomplished woman athlete, “Babe” Didrikson, was “mannish” and “not quite female.”[2]  One could dismiss these attitudes as contemporary sexism, but then in these modern, supposedly more enlightened times, why does Danika Patrick appear playing the female version of Steppin Fetchit on ads for Go Daddy?

Sadly, in spite of the enthusiasm the women’s World Cup has generated, it shows that while women may have made progress in the field of sport, just like in the realms of education, employment, and opportunity, much still remains to be done.  If I had a daughter, I would certainly have taken her to a game, but I would also encourage her to sign the petition demanding equal pay for the victorious women’s team:

 http://www.occupypv.org/articles.php?article_id=574 Then I would feel I had done my duty as the parent of a daughter.

- S. Noël McKay, author of Stony Point


[1] David Ebner, “US Defeats Japan to Win Women’s World Cup,” The Globe and Mail website, Sunday, July 5, 2015, last updated Monday, July 6, 2015, at 12:09 PM EDT.

[2] Zirin, Dave, “Women, Gender, and Sports,” International Socialist Review, Issue # 72

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