It’s time for equality for women in sports


Angela Yuan

Women are still struggling to find the same place in the sports industry as men. The Sidekick executive editorial page editor Claire Clements believes that it’s time to fix this issue.

Claire Clements, Executive Editorial Page Editor

On Sept. 2, Sahar Khodaryi, an Iranian woman who snuck into a soccer game women were not allowed to attend, set herself on fire in front of the courthouse in Tehran where she was indicted. As news of her death spread, the world was set on fire with anger; how could something like this happen? Don’t we live in a time when things are supposed to be different for women? 

A month later, 4,000 Iranian women were allowed inside a Tehran stadium to watch their first FIFA soccer match in decades. As Iranian activists and the rest of the world celebrates, we still need to recognize that the fight for women in sports is far from over, even at home. 

While we may not have issues with laws to this degree in America, we still have issues with women in sports. On March 8, the U.S. women’s soccer team filed a lawsuit against the U.S Soccer Federation on the basis that the team gets paid less than its male counterparts, despite the fact that the team has won three World Cups- and the men’s team has won none. Despite the fact that they are ranked No. 1 in the world– and the men’s team is ranked 21st. 

On both sides, while both groups of women (Iranian and American) are experiencing severely different levels of discrimination, we are still seeing discrimination. On both sides, we need to call the people behind it to action.  

Many people argue the reason for this wage gap is because not as many people watch the women’s soccer team as the men’s team, which seems like a valid point, if you completely ignore that the last Women’s World Cup final viewership was 22% higher than the Men’s World Cup final, or that the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final is the most-watched soccer match in U.S. history. 

This does not just apply to soccer, and it certainly does not just apply to sports on the international or national level- women’s sports are not taken as seriously as men’s. Even in Coppell, there are different levels of attention paid towards male and female versions of the sport, such as basketball. 

“For girls, basketball is not seen really as popular or as cool, even though it’s the same sport [as men’s basketball],” Coppell junior basketball player Emma Sherrer said. 

Attendance and support are important for a number of reasons, but the most important is that it gives validation to the work they put into their game.

“Women in sports need more recognition for the accomplishments that they’re getting, because even back at the [Women’s] World Cup it was always, ‘Oh, it’s the women’s team, how big of an accomplishment is it really?’” Coppell High School senior Kate Harris said. “[We need] recognition of what they do.” 

Harris is a former forward for Fever United 01 and the Coppell varsity soccer team. 

This lack of appreciation for women’s accomplishments reflect a recurring issue: we do not respect women’s achievements in the same way that we do men’s. 

The wage gap is not new. For years, a common pillar of the feminist movement has been the pay gap, and it still is an issue. But the feminist movement has been so concerned about the things that affect the everyday woman that we have ignored the not-so-everyday: the professional female athletes who are also doing the same work as their male counterparts, and yet are being severely underpaid.

It is 2019, and we still do not have recognition for women in sports. It is 2019, and there are places where women still cannot even watch sports. 

It is time to make a safe, equal space for women in sports, in all areas of the world, in all ranges of life. 

Follow Claire (@cclements825) and @SidekickSports on Twitter.