⚽Money, money, money
The GIST: In case you needed another reason to call 2020 a dumpster fire, the US women’s national soccer team (USWNT) was dealt a major blow on Friday when part of their gender equality lawsuit was dismissed. Ugh.
Remind me, what’s the backstory?: Last year, the USWNT filed a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation (USSF), the sport’s national governing body, on the grounds of gender discrimination. The lawsuit argues that the women’s team was (and continues to be) paid significantly less than the men’s national team (USMNT), despite the women generating more revenue.
- The USWNT also argues that they’ve been given unequal resources, including worse training and travel conditions, and less promotion, support and development of their games and players.
Got it. So what happened on Friday?: A federal judge ruled against the USWNT equal pay suit, dismissing the claim on the grounds that they were actually paid more than the men’s team during the period of 2015 to 2019 (in which the women’s team won two FIFA World Cups while the men failed to qualify for one).
- The women’s team was so good, they earned a bunch of performance bonuses from winning so much. And because the men’s team was, well, not good during this period, the USSF did end up paying the women more. That said, had the men simply qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, they would’ve been paid much more than the women who won. *rolls eyes*
What happens now?: The USWNT will file an appeal against this latest ruling and will still work through the other part (i.e., unequal resources, etc.) of the lawsuit. A court date is set for June 16th (moved from May 5th because of COVID-19), but there’s a good chance they’ll settle out of court before then. In the meantime, Uncle Joe wants them to keep fighting for equality. And we do too.
🏒Walk it like I talk it
The GIST: As much as we all really, really, REALLY want live sports back, some players are speaking out against the proposed process for resuming play. Because players are human too.
What are they saying?: Over in the NHL, the league is proposing each team play games in one of four cities, based on their division, and that the playoffs be held in a figurative bubble, a la Bubble Boy. Heavily restricting the players’ movements could see some players apart from their families for up to four months.
- Montreal Canadiens’ Phillip Danault said that if the NHL put it to a vote, he’s not sure it would be positive for the league. It can’t be easy knowing the further your team goes in the playoffs, the longer you’d be away from your loved ones.
What about other players from other leagues?: Turns out EPL soccer players might not be so stoked about their June 8th targeted return date either. A source told ESPN that a lot of players are “uncomfortable” with coming back and the league will only take things seriously if someone in the league dies. Um, let’s not have it come to that, shall we?
🏆Are you there sports? It’s me, Margaret
The GIST: Although COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc on most of our sports hopes and dreams, this week has blessed us with some good news.
What do you mean? Are sports coming back soon?: In soccer-crazed Europe, yes. The English Premier League (EPL) hopes to return by June 8th and finish the season by late July. Talk about a quickie. Over in Italy, Serie A has set May 18th as a target date to resume training, though many aren’t optimistic that full games are around the corner. Meanwhile, France and the Netherlands have taken the opposite route, canceling their country’s soccer seasons completely. You win some, you lose some.
- Closer to home, the LPGA is looking to restart in mid-July, with tournaments in Michigan and Ohio. And the MLB is planning a massive birthday party for America on the Fourth of July by bringing back baseball. We’ll get our party hats ready.
But what can I watch right now?: There’s tennis! Well, kind of. The Madrid Open went virtual this week, bringing together top talent from the WTA (women’s circuit) and ATP (men’s circuit), including stars Belinda Bencic (pronounced BEN-CHITCH), Bianca Andreescu, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal. The tournament wraps up today, and though it’s been fun, we think it would have been way more interesting if they were playing Wii Tennis, but beggars can’t be choosers.
- And over in South Korea, where the pandemic is a little more contained, the Korea Baseball Organization is playing preseason games and intends to open the regular season, granted without fans in the stands, on May 5th. Rumor has it they’re even nearing a broadcast deal with ESPN.
Anything to cheer me up while I wait?: Glad you asked! We fell head over heels for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs
hunk lineman and Super Bowl champ Laurent Duvernay-Tardif this week. As the only active NFL player who’s also a doctor, the Canadian is now working on the COVID-19 frontlines in a long-term care facility in Quebec. Move over McDreamy.
🏆For the love of money
The GIST: After decades of saying “no,” the NCAA will finally allow athletes to make money from third-party endorsements, starting at the beginning of the 2021–22 academic year at the latest. Turns out, mo’ money, not really mo’ problems.
No way! Why now?: Yes way. And it’s been a long time coming. The NCAA really started feeling the heat in September when California signed the Fair Pay to Play Act — an act that not only received a lot of public support but also kudos from athletes like LeBron James.
- Then in October, the NCAA first voted to allow college athletes to profit off the use of their name, image and likeness. Yesterday, the Board of Governors announced their support of that rule change. Talk about a process.
Got it. So what does it really mean?: Though the ruling still needs to be officially voted in (yes another
tribal council vote), the idea is that organizations big and small can hire a college athlete to promote their business. That means your local watering hole could pay for a star soccer player to come and sign autographs, or, if a player is popular enough, they might even be featured in national commercials. Fabulous!
So this is good news?: We think so. Colleges, universities and the NCAA itself have earned billions of dollars every year off college sports. However, until now, the actual product — aka the athletes who have been putting everything on the line — have received nothing, nada, zilch.
- And, given that women have far fewer opportunities in the sports world post college, this move is likely a big win for female athletes. Make that money, honey!
Any other money news?: Actually, yes. While the Los Angeles Lakers returned a $4.6M loan and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell volunteered to make his salary $0, the Canadian Football League (CFL) is asking for up to $150M from the federal government to help cope with the shutdown and to avoid becoming the next league to go under due to COVID-19. Yeesh.
🏈“Who gives a sh!t about gender?”
The GIST: This recent NFL talk has us thinking about the trailblazing women — specifically the coaches — who have contributed to the game.
The numbers: Since 2015, seven full-time female coaches and 15 female coaching interns have worked in the NFL. Currently, four women hold full-time assistant coaching positions. Amazing, right?! However, given the typical NFL team currently averages 23 assistant coaches and there are 32 teams in the league, there are about 736 assistant coaching opportunities. We’re no math majors, but this means women hold only 0.54% of assistant coaching roles.
- And while the NFL has implemented policies such as the “Rooney Rule,” which requires teams to interview ethnic-minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operations jobs, there are no similar gender-diversity policies. Hhhmmmm.
The firsts: Still, there are four full-time coaches in the league and that’s a BFD, especially when football, despite having professional women’s football leagues, is “not a women’s sport.” Five years ago, Dr. Jen Welter got the ball rolling when she became the first woman to coach in the NFL as the Arizona Cardinals training camp/preseason coaching intern.
- Just a year later in 2016, Kathryn Smith became the NFL’s first female full-time coach when she landed the role of special teams quality control coach with the Buffalo Bills.
The present: Mostly recently, Katie Sowers, who’s been an offensive assistant coach with the San Francisco 49ers since 2017, became the first woman and openly gay full-time coach in the Super Bowl. Can we get a HYFR?
- Then, shortly after the season ended, Jennifer King became the NFL’s first Black female full-year coach when she was hired by the Washington who must not be named as a full-year coaching intern. You love to see it.
The future: With the combination of having female coaching role models, an increase in female fandom (the NFL says 47% of its fans are women) and head coaches “not giving a sh!t about gender,” we predict we’re only going to see more female coaches in the future (and maybe even our first female NFLer).