I've been a big fan of the United States Women's Soccer Team since Mia Hamm ripped off her jersey. As philosopher Ricky Bobby said, "If you ain't first, you're last," and they're consistently first. On July 7th, they won a back-to-back World Cup title. It was their 4th, going nicely with their 4 Olympic gold medals. Their combined 2019 tournament score was a record 26-3. Sadly, my fellow campers and I missed the final game, as the TVs were then strictly off limits on that Sunday afternoon. Even so, I was among a group who pushed the sanction envelope to find a shady spot to listen to the finals while trying to see a 36" TV in the closed Rec Pavilion 40 feet away.
Now that the tournament is over, the team's players will pursue mediation to resolve a class action lawsuit filed against the United States Soccer Federation. The suit alleges that the difference in pay and working conditions between the U.S. women's team and men's team violates the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
The women have a compelling case. There is a substantial pay difference in the 2 teams who do substantially equal work. Well, it's not exactly "equal," as the best World Cup finish the men's team has achieved is a 3rd place finish in 1930.
According to The Economist, for the USSF to win in mediation, it must prove 1 of 4 affirmative defenses: a seniority system, a merit system, a pay system based on quantity or quality of output, or any other factor not based on sex. The USSF is basing its sexist stinginess on "differences in the aggregate revenue generated by the different teams, and/or any other factor other than sex."
That defense is going to be challenging based on a Wall Street Journal analysis of audited USSF financials. These reveal that, between 2016 and 2018, women's games generated $50.8 million in ticket sales, while the men's games took in $49.9 million. There are other sources of revenue to consider such as broadcast rights and sponsorship deals, but it's a stretch to think the men's team is such a sought after commodity, as they failed to even qualify for the last World Cup. And Nike reported, after the women won their semi-final contest against England, that women's team Nike jersey sales were the highest for team jerseys in history, men's or women's.
And even better, these women are selfless, relentless and brash, very American and WAY COOL: Co-Captains Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, along with the likes of Carli Lloyd, Lindsey Horan, Christen Press, Kelly O'Hara, Julie Ertz, Rose Lavelle, Tobin Heath, Becky Souerbrunn, Mallory Pugh, Tierna Davidson, Crystal Dunn, Ali Krieger, goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, and coach Jill Ellis; all world champions, again.
Again, to quote Ricky Bobby, "Winners get to do what they want," and these women want equal pay. They deserve it, and I hope they get it.