U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Sues

U.S. Soccer for Gender Discrimination

1848-1912. Photo c. 1902 (Courtesy East Carolina University)

More than two dozen members of the United States women’s national team sued U.S. Soccer in federal court on Friday.

Photo by: Douglas Defelice/USA Today Sports, via Reuters


Jeremy Engle, March 12, 2019

Before reading the article:

Are you a sports fan? Do you watch any sports played by women?

Did you know that the United States women’s national soccer team has won three World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals? (You can watch highlights of the team’s 2015 World Cup victory here.)

This June, the team will begin the defense of its Women’s World Cup title in France. But on March 8, the team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Do you think female athletes deserve more respect? More attention? More pay?

Now, read the article, “U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Sues U.S. Soccer for Gender Discrimination,” and answer the following questions:

1. The United States women’s soccer team’s lawsuit charges “institutionalized gender discrimination.” Give three examples of discrimination from the article. What law does the suit claim has been violated?

2. How is the lawsuit a part of the broader fight for women’s sports?

3. What are some of the ways the United States women's soccer team has advocated better conditions in the past. What was been the outcome of those attempts? Why does the team have more leverage now than ever, according to the article?

4. According to the article, the team has been “a leading force in women’s sports for more than a generation.” What evidence does the author give to support this claim? How have the team’s activism and outspokenness inspired other women’s teams around the world?

5. How does the pay between players on the men’s and women’s national soccer teams differ? Why are direct comparisons in compensation complicated?

6. The article concludes with a quotation by Neena Chaudhry, the general counsel of the National Women’s Law Center in Washington:

These are the same kinds of arguments and claims that we still see at every level of education for women and girls, from K through 12 to college. It’s unfortunately a sad continuation of the way that women and girls in sports are treated in the U.S.

Do you agree? Do you think the United States soccer team’s case is part of a larger system of inequity?

Finally, tell us more about what you think:

— What is your reaction to the lawsuit? Do you think the team will win its case and why?

— Why does this lawsuit matter? Is this case just about soccer or is it bigger? Why should non-sports fans care? How will it make a difference to you?

— Should professional female athletes be paid the same as men? Does it matter if the ticket sales or television ratings in a given sport are higher for men than for women?

— Do people have a responsibility to watch and attend more women’s sporting events if they want women’s athletics to thrive? What suggestions do you have to make sure that female athletes get the respect they deserve in our society? Will you watch the United States women’s soccer team compete this summer in the World Cup?

— In a related article, “8 Times Women in Sports Fought for Equality,” Sarah Mervosh and Christina Caron profile other examples of women fighting for equality in sports. Look through the article and select one historical example you find most interesting or significant. Compare this example to the current efforts by the United States women’s soccer team. How are they similar and different? What lessons can we learn from these female athletes’ struggles?

— What are girls’ and boys’ athletics like at your school? Do female athletes receive equal treatment? What recommendations do you have to improve female athletic programs at your school?

Related Resources:

In Fight for Equality, U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Leads the Way

Pay Disparity in U.S. Soccer? It’s Complicated

© 2019 Tapestry, Annual TAMUK Women & Gender Studies Journal

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