Women’s History Month draws to a close just as March Madness reaches a fevered pitch. With so much attention paid to men’s basketball this time of year, we’re here to catch you up the month’s highlights from the world of women’s sports.
On March 8th (International Women’s Day), the U.S. National Women’s Soccer Team kicked off a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation for equal pay. The suit claims that women players are paid less than their male counterparts. Despite the women players’ impressive accomplishments— winning four Olympic medals and three World Cup titles, earning more profit and revenue for the league, and playing more games in front of more fans— they earn less than half the salary of the men’s team (which failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup). This pay gap is not unique to soccer. In basketball, the minimum NBA players’ salary is ten times the median WNBA player’s salary.
Speaking of basketball, the NCAA tournament is in full swing, for both the men and women. And if you think that the same two women’s teams win every year, making this half of the tourney a bit dull, you’re wrong (we’re looking at you Louisville). Writer Natalie Weiner makes the case that the best way to support women’s basketball (and all women’s sports for that matter) is to watch it. “Women basketball players still confront near-constant sexism— and the most effective antidote is to appreciate the amazing athletic feats they accomplish in spite of it.” Here are seven teams to watch in the women’s bracket.
Now to tee off on golf, the Ladies’ Professional Golf Association (LPGA) is following Nike by publishing their own version of a women’s sports empowerment video. “Drive On” is hoping that more women around the world will take up golf. The video shows women of color playing in what has historically been a mostly-white sport and inspires with lines like “This is for every girl who’s been told that success and kindness are two different things. This is for every girl who’s been told to give up. This is us, crushing it for you, so you can crush it for the next girl.”
Vaulting now to gymnastics, as the month draws to a close, we were treated to a sneak peek at fan favorite and defending champion UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi’s new routine. It is notable for the replacement of Michael Jackson’s music and moves with those of Janet Jackson, Beyonce, and Tina Turner. Katelyn, who is also a body-positive poet, hopes that people will recognize her for more than her gymnastics career, saying “I have a passionate heart about women’s empowerment, and I am very compassionate towards people who have spoken out. It’s about understanding issues and having a bigger platform than just the sport.”
Women’s sports are generating more attention than ever before, and there are signs that fans are beginning to tune in and buy tickets to see women athletes play. Not only are women athletes impressive for their skills and talents, but thanks to social media and their own activism, they are also modeling fairness, equity, inclusion, and empowerment. This is how to play like a girl!