Treating the USWNT, and All Women, With the Respect They Deserve

Every four years, teams around the world and millions of fans gather to cheer on the nation’s women’s soccer team. For me, it started when I was a little girl playing soccer. I looked up to the US Women’s National Team (USWNT) not only because they were excellent players, but because they were strong, resilient women. They spoke out about women’s rights, equal pay, and the countless injustices in society. I grew up watching Abby Wambach, Sydney Leroux, Megan Rapinoe, Mallory Pugh, Alex Morgan, and so many other women who played at the highest level, demanding the iconic statement “Equal Pay for Equal Play.”

The US Women’s National Team has a historical journey of excellence. They not only qualify for World Cups — they win them. In fact, the USWNT has the most World Cup wins in the history of women’s soccer. I remember watching the 2015 world cup win going into high school with my friends. We all sat around the tv as Carli Lloyd scored her hat trick (3 goals in one game) against Japan, one even from the middle of the pitch. It was an awe-inspiring moment to see a group of women do so well on an international level. Then again, in 2019, I was traveling with my mom and we made plans to go to a pub while in Boston to watch the final match, US v. Netherlands. We sat together, eating pub food and watching the game as countless fans cheered on the team inside the pub and around the world. It ended in another US World Cup win and continued to show the nation and the world just how capable, qualified, and talented the US team was and is.

It is no secret that our team has given so much — usually everything —to reach the level they are at today. But why are they still so criticized? I have heard the constant “women just aren’t as good as men are” and “no one wants to watch women’s sports” since I began playing soccer and would talk to my friends about it. But we never ask them where they get those ideas from. Is it our school systems? Is it the kids’ parents? Is it their friends? It is time we stop criticizing women who play at a level that most of us will never reach. A team of 23 women needs to be cheered on and supported by their nation — not scrutinized by it.

Too often people blatantly make rude and disrespectful comments about a team that represents their country. If we want our women to continue learning, growing, playing, and winning at the highest level, we need to give them our full and genuine support. Not just watching and cheering them on when they are in the final, not just posting about how they won it all in the end, but truly being there to cheer them on throughout the entire World Cup and all tournaments/games they play in.

When we attack our women’s team the way so many have done in the past, we send a strong message: women are not supported by the people in our nation. When we start actually supporting women, on all levels, not just the highest, that is when our fight for equity and equality can advance further. It takes effort on every front; in policy, in society, in sports, in our everyday lives, in our words, and in our thoughts. We need to do better not just for the USWNT, but for all women.

Debunking Common Myths about Women’s Soccer
Myth: Women’s games have lower turnout than men’s games.
Fact: While viewership for all soccer matches varies, in the 2018 & 2019 World Cups, the women’s final brought in an average of 13.98 million viewers, whereas the men’s final brought in an average of 12.51 million viewers.

Myth: Women’s games bring in less revenue than men’s games.
Fact: According to financial statements, U.S. women’s soccer brought in $1.9 million more in revenue in 2016, and from 2016-2018, the women’s team brought in $50.8 million compared to $49.9 million that the men’s team brought in.

Myth: Women’s soccer is not popular around the world.
Fact: Women’s soccer started later on global and national levels because of sexist ideals in society. Despite this, women’s soccer is now one of the fastest-growing sports and industries in the world.

Bell Pastore, Intern to the office of the President

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