Should Professional Female Athletes Be Paid The Same As Their Male Counterparts?

A pertinent topic in today’s society is whether men and women should be paid equally, especially in the sports industry. Equal gender wages have been a heated debate among women’s sports teams such as the United States Women’s National Soccer Team (WNT) and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) as a whole. Although men are scientifically proven to be faster and stronger than women, that should not be the base reason for their extravagant pay. Professional male and female athletes collectively put in the same amount of time, effort, and dedication into their sport, and yet, male athletes are paid significantly more than their female counterparts. For reference, NBA star, Stephen Curry, has over a $40 million salary, which is more than three times as much as what every player in the WNBA made collectively in 2019. Their collective salaries totaled $12.5 million. The fact that one man makes more than three times the amount of every hard-working, passionate woman in the WNBA, is truly devastating.

The WNT has been fighting for equal pay for years and even after all 28 members sued their own national federation, US Soccer, for purposeful gender discrimination, US Soccer proceeded to file thousands of documents asserting that, as one motion put it, “WNT and MNT players do not perform equal work requiring equal skill, effort, and responsibility under similar working conditions.” Yet, the WNT continues to prove that statement wrong every day. US Soccer even had the audacity to declare that they were entitled to treat men better because of biology: “The overall soccer-playing ability required to compete at the senior men’s national team level is materially influenced by the level of certain physical attributes, such as speed and strength.” This outraged not only the WNT but many Americans, as well as other WNT followers worldwide. It was found that the WNT brought in more money than the men’s team from 2015 to 2019, and yet they were still paid significantly less. The unfortunate upbringing of events has caused rather harsh debates, leading female athletes to work even harder than they had previously done to accomplish their hard-fought goal of equality.

The WNBA is proved to have been fighting the longest out of any other league for better wages. For comparison, Anthony Davis, a number one overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, was on 6 All-Star teams, and had a salary of $27.1 million, while Nneka Ogwumike who was also a number one overall pick in the 2012 WNBA draft and was on 6-time All-Star teams, only had a salary of $115,000. Despite having the same exact statistics, Ogwumike was paid much less than Davis because she is a woman. There is no reasonable argument that can deny the present wage disparity and it is tragic that people, specifically women, have to suffer because of it, while men thrive.