The USWNT Play Like Girls, And That's Exactly Why They Should Get Paid The Same
“Stop playing like a girl.”
Five words that can quickly bring down someone’s motivation and self-esteem. Over the years, this stereotype has been used as an insult for both boys and girls. It’s a simple way of telling someone they aren’t good enough. Over time, women have done their best to break this harmful stereotypes. Luckily, there are a growing number of celebrities and role models speaking out for gender equality today.
Gender inequality has been a problem in our country for many, many years. The phrase “equal pay for equal work” is not entirely true, even in this day and age. As one easy example, American women who work full time still earn an average of 22 percent less than men.
The U.S. Women’s National Team is very familiar with this issue and publicly spoke about the wage gap in 2015. The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) pays female players between $6,000 and $30,000 a year, while Major League Soccer (MLS) players receive a minimum salary of $50,000 per year. The USWNT won a World Cup Title in 2015. The USMNT placed 9th in the 2014 World Cup. Yet, U.S. men received $9 million in prize money while the champion women's team received only $2 million. The German men, who won the 2014 FIFA Men's World Cup, received $35 million.
You might think the USMNT get paid more because they bring in much more money. But even U.S. Soccer has admitted this isn't necessarily the case.
In short, female athletes are not being compensated for their hard work – even when they outperform men both on the field and on the books.
Despite this inequity, the U.S. women keep pushing to set a positive example and to redefine what it means to "play like a girl." In 2015, they did more than win a World Cup title. They crushed stereotypes and launched a successful campaign called #SheBelieves. The campaign was developed to motivate and encourage young girls to set high goals and strive for their dreams. Female fans were inspired to succeed after watching star players Hope Solo, Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd and Tobin Heath perform in the World Cup, and they made their way to Twitter to show their support.
This responsibility as positive role models was not lost on the U.S. women.
“As a team, we are always excited to be able to positively impact young fans, especially young girls,” said USWNT captain Christie Rampone. “Our fans have shown us how much they believe in us, and we believe in them, too. We want everyone to have that confidence on and off the field. The #SheBelieves initiative allows us to interact with the fans and encourage them to set high goals and strive to reach them no matter what the obstacles.”
The campaign was launched in 2015 and players have continued to fight for young, aspiring athletes.
Alex Morgan was one of many young girls who are discouraged from playing the game they loved because coaches tell them they aren't “good enough.” Morgan teamed up with Always to help empower girls.
“Always #LikeAGirl is all about helping girls’ confidence especially at a time where their confidence is most vulnerable. For me, it just kind of hits home because I could relate to that when I was younger. It was the perfect fit for me to be able to speak about this and speak about having self-confidence and feeling encouraged to keep playing in sports.” – Alex Morgan
Females are not the only ones speaking out and supporting this topic.
President Barack Obama welcomed the USWNT to the White House last year to congratulate the team on their World Cup title and amazing accomplishments. Obama stated, “This team taught all of America’s children that ‘playing like a girl’ means you’re a badass. He continued to shut down the insult by explaining, “Playing like a girl' means being the best," he said. "It means drawing the largest TV audience for a soccer match, men or women's, in American history. It means wearing our nation's crest on your jersey, taking yourself and your country to the top of the world. That's what American women do, that's what American girls do, that's why we celebrate this team."
And celebrate this team we should. After all, playing like "girls" – winning gracefully, being positive role models, fighting for what's right – is something everyone, man or woman, should aspire to.