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Op-Ed: Sexism should be removed from the sports industry

Photo credit: Uma Nambiar
The illustration above depicts the stark discrepancy in men’s wage versus women’s. In the sports industry, the pay gap between men and women is significant and affects women’s lives. (Graphic Illustration by Uma Nambiar)

From cheering with strangers for your favorite football team to playing a pick-up basketball game in the park, sports have been a constant in our society. The connection, love and happiness people find through sports have remained consistent since the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896.

Although men and women compete at the same collegiate and professional levels, there is a staggering discrepancy in the funding of teams based on sex. For example, Division I athletic departments fund men’s sports at twice the rate as women’s, not unlike the pay gap in the workforce.

For centuries, our society has seen a steady pattern of sexism towards women in all fields. Title IX was passed in 1972 and states no person in the United States should be discriminated against based on sex in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

Even after Title IX was passed more than 50 years ago, there are still departments in certain colleges that pay women’s teams differently than men’s. Coach Dani LeNoir said the impacts of sexism in the sports industry are evident.

“There’s a wage gap in every industry, and it’s just so blatant in the sports industry,” LeNoir said. “The WNBA doesn’t get chartered flights … They have to take red-eyes, and it affects their play as well. They’re subject to delays. Try taking a red-eye and having to play the next day. This speaks to how no money is put into women’s sports, period.”

Additionally, sports sponsorships also affect the pay gap in the sports industry. Sports sponsorships are when a brand pays the athlete for their brand to be associated with the athlete. While women make up 40% of athletes, they receive about 17% of total sponsorships in North America, such as Nike and Adidas. Ninety percent of sponsorship dollars are dedicated to men, and women rely on off-field endorsements two times more than men.

Because of the pay gap, some female athletes have to find a second job to make ends meet, fitness and wellness teacher Jamie Fink said. Many WNBA players have to go overseas to supplement their league salaries, and Fink said she has seen the direct effect of how low pay in women’s sports affects personal livelihood.

“It has been a topic of discussion for so long, and when you don’t see that much change … It’s just so frustrating,” Fink said. “My soccer friends that I [know] have to work after [their jobs] because they’re not paid enough, so they have to go find coaching jobs. They have to do both.”

Moreover, a statistic about funding in sports shows that men’s teams that play for the University of Pennsylvania had recruiting expenses of $532,248 in the fiscal year 2022, more than double the $238,181 spent on recruiting for women’s teams. Additionally, the men’s lacrosse team at the University of Pennsylvania had $413,849 in operating expenses, while the women’s team had just $159,948.

Fitness and wellness teacher Natalie Chambers agreed that the way women are treated because of the pay gap is apparent, specifically in basketball.

“During March Madness, the differences between the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball teams and how they were treated at the tournaments … I mean, it would have my blood boiling,” Chambers said. “The men’s [teams] get the amazing courts, the great locker rooms, the amazing buffet, great trainers to help them. And then you see how the women were treated. They were just shoved into a makeshift basketball court, in a hotel grand hall, and their food is next to none. Their locker rooms were just another room with drapes.”

With the obvious amount of sexism in the sports industry, it is imperative to take action. Whether it’s watching women’s sports more on TV or helping spread awareness for this issue on social media, broadcasting knowledge of this problem will help female athletes get the recognition they deserve.

Knowing that there is a consistent trend of women being treated differently than men in the sports industry throughout history, LeNoir emphasized that women deserve better treatment.

“Simply put,” LeNoir said, “pay women what they’re worth.”

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About the Contributor
Uma Nambiar, Staff Reporter
Uma Nambiar joined the Oracle in 2023 as a Staff Reporter. She is an avid reader and writer as well as being in the Unaccompanied Minors, Archer's acapella group. In her free time, you can find Uma reading, writing, and obsessing over rom-coms.

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