Searching, for Justice

The Verdict

Searching, for Justice

The Verdict

Searching, for Justice

The Verdict

Gender and Athletic Equity

The preva­lence of gender inequal­ity within athlet­ics is a rele­vant issue on not only a profes­sional scale but also within FCPS itself. 

Athletic clubs and programs in FCPS are almost entirely privately funded. The lack of recog­ni­tion predom­i­nantly female sports receive gener­ates an inabil­ity to inde­pen­dently raise suffi­cient funds which in turn creates a lack of finan­cial support to obtain essen­tial equip­ment and supplies. 

“I do believe gender plays a big role, a lot of indi­vid­u­als believe that women’s sports ‘suck’ and that they will never be anywhere near as enter­tain­ing as men’s sports … Boys basket­ball has a major crowd compared to girls basket­ball. We have maybe 15 people show­ing up to games max. However, boys basket­ball games have plenty of people watch­ing. Again, prob­a­bly because they are ‘more aggres­sive and fast paced’ which just is not the case in my opin­ion. Female athletes can be just as aggres­sive as male athletes.” said varsity girls basket­ball player, Halima Hajhas­san.

WNBA produces a smaller number of view­ers, corpo­rate spon­sors, and revenue compared to the NBA. The lack of media cover­age and there­fore revenue gener­ated from women’s sports is what a hand­ful of indi­vid­u­als point to as the reason why male athletes should be paid a larger salary. What this argu­ment does­n’t account for is the differ­ence in market­ing between the two, mens athlet­ics is adver­tised at a signif­i­cantly higher rate than womens. “Women’s sports account for 5.7% of media cover­age by ESPN … Mixed martial arts is a combat sport that has success­fully closed the pay gap … The UFC has success­fully marketed its female athletes. Many main events are female fight­ers and some of the sport’s biggest stars are women,” said athel​ogroup​.com 

The effects of insuf­fi­cient public­ity, hence profit from women’s athlet­ics, is also reflected in the wages of local female coaches. Accord­ing to FCPS athletic coach­ing contract records from 2016–17,  the high­est salary listed was the posi­tion of foot­bal­l’s head coach amount­ing up to $7155 annu­ally. The salaries of the head coaches of girls field hockey, girls volley­ball, and fall cheer­lead­ing combined made only 74 more dollars than the assis­tant coach of football. 

In the late 1800’s, devel­op­ment of infor­mal female athletic groups marked the intro­duc­tion of women in sports. It was not until a century later in 1900 that women were allowed to compete profes­sion­ally in the Olympics. Accord­ing to YWCA, “In 1900 women made up only 22 of the 997 contes­tants and [partic­i­pated] in only five of the 19 sports in the program.” Due to the delayed entrance female athletes made into the male domi­nated field, miscon­cep­tions spread about women’s bodies’ lack of phys­i­cal predis­po­si­tion to compete at a profes­sional level. 

Bias imposed on female athletes has created a gender wage gap and histor­i­cally limited womens oppor­tu­ni­ties for careers in athlet­ics. Accord­ing to athel​ogroup​.com, “Male athletes in basket­ball, golf, soccer, base­ball and tennis make anywhere from 15% to 100% more than female athletes … sports are natu­rally unfair to women …  [women] are not granted the same oppor­tu­ni­ties that men are to even be able to earn the amount of money that men do.” 

The unequal number of possi­bil­i­ties avail­able to women in sports is equally evident within high­school athlet­ics. “Girls have 1.3 million fewer oppor­tu­ni­ties to play high school sports than boys have. Lack of phys­i­cal educa­tion in schools and limited oppor­tu­ni­ties to play sports in both high school and college, mean girls have to look else­where for sports –which may not exist or may cost more money,” said women​sports​foun​da​tion​.com 

An influ­en­tial step in the direc­tion of gender equal­ity in athlet­ics came with Title IX, an amend­ment passed by Congress in 1972; which barred discrim­i­na­tion based on sex in educa­tion programs and activ­i­ties. “Over the past four decades, the Depart­ment of Justice’s work to enforce Title IX and other laws prohibit­ing sex discrim­i­na­tion in educa­tion, includ­ing its work in part­ner­ship with the Depart­ment of Educa­tion, has signif­i­cantly advanced educa­tional equity. However, despite the gains achieved in the last forty years, inequal­i­ties in educa­tion persist,” said justice​.gov. 

Acknowl­edg­ing the exten­sive history of gender inequal­ity within athlet­ics is the begin­ning of decon­struct­ing the prej­u­dice and bias imposed on female athletes today. 

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Gabriela Simmons-Robles, Ad Sales Manager
Gabriela Simmons-Robles is currently a sophomore staff writer of 'The Verdict.' She appreciates investigative and feminist literature as well as Biology. Aside from educational pursuits she enjoys painting as well as baking. Chocolate pie is her favorite recipe to bake!

Comments (0)

All The Verdict Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *