Opinion: Female Athletes Deserve Better

The differences between male and female athletics are obvious, and the women are at a major disadvantage. Whether its salary, pace of play, or the media attention the two get, the men’s side always dominates. But the underlying issue is the one that has plagued women for years: sexism.

As weird as it may seem for a man to describe the sexism women face in sports, the issue is apparent, and has been since the dawn of professional sports.

Looking back to the civil rights movement, athletes like Jackie Robinson and Earl Lloyd paved the way for African Americans in athletics. It was a hard-fought battle and one that has not entirely been won, but equality in the women’s game has been much harder to achieve.

It is one thing to incorporate African American men into pre-existing leagues. But it is an entirely different journey for women to create, as the 1992 film suggests, “A League of Their Own.”

We have seen women’s sports grow, particularly in American soccer. The United States Women’s National Team has been an inspiration to young girls with aspirations of living out their dreams of being professional athletes. It is inspiring, especially considering the growth of the men’s game in the United States, but even then, the men far overpower the women.

Major League Soccer (MLS), the highest level of professional men’s soccer in the U.S., is seen on numerous stations across the country, many on the same networks as the NBA and MLB. Games are also regularly featured on ESPN and Fox Sports.

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), is almost never covered across major networks and often is only featured on Lifetime TV, a channel not known for sports at all, outside of the league.

The issue is prominent at the professional level, and it gets worse and worse as you go down the totem pole.

College athletics see a major difference in the turnout for men’s vs women’s games. Looking at basketball at Charger Gymnasium, the bleachers are more packed for Saturday 3:30 p.m. tipoff for the men, than the 1:30 p.m. tip for the women. The games lineup back-to-back and fans are still more likely to go to one than both. This is a problem that needs to be fixed.

We need to break the stigma. Phrases like “you throw like a girl” need to be removed. The girls recruited to play college softball can throw a lot better than most of us. The girls playing soccer have footwork you would not believe. It is time to give credit where credit is due. America was built on giving people the opportunity to achieve their dreams, as long as they’ve worked for it, and these female athletes work just as hard as their male counterparts. It’s time to show them the respect they deserve.