Women’s sports take center stage

By David Mullen

To the average fan, women’s sports are a low priority. Few could tell you that Dallas has a Woman’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) team called the Dallas Wings. They don’t play in Dallas; they actually play at the University of Texas-Arlington.

Then there is the Dallas Charge, the local entry into the National Pro Fastpitch league. Their schedule is in mid-season, they play at The Ballfields at Craig Ranch in McKinney and rarely get local press coverage.

Some sports fans believe that they are being force fed women’s sports, especially women’s college sports on vehicles like ESPN, since the advent of Title IX, which states, “No person in the U.S. shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Locally, women’s collegiate fast pitch softball becomes somewhat popular during the playoffs and World Series, but that is primarily because of school loyalty and the proximity of the World Series in Oklahoma City.

But, for one month every four years, women’s sports are at the forefront, and everyone is watching. Professional basketball and hockey is over, college and NFL football have yet to begin, and baseball is heading to the All-Star break. 

With The Championships, Wimbledon and the Women’s World Cup being played at the same time, the ladies get the center stage.      

Wimbledon is like the Masters; no matter who is playing, it is “must see TV.” And most will tell you that the woman’s game is more watchable. They serve, volley and have long rallies. They have interesting personalities like the Williams (Venus and Serena) sisters. 

American Coco Gauff, all of 15 years old, captivated the tennis world after stunning upsets of Venus and Polona Hercog en route to the Round of 16. People are watching.   

Most of the best male players are concentrated on making aces and are European. The U.S. patriotism angle is lost this year in the men’s game.

Long before the #MeToo movement, the popularity of women’s tennis at Wimbledon forced the powers of London to provide equal prize amounts for the top players.

Tennis players at Wimbledon this year are competing for a combined 38 million British pounds — or more than $48 million — the largest prize pool in the history of The Championships, Wimbledon.

The gentlemen’s and ladies’ singles winners will each receive 2.4 million pounds (nearly $3 million), the runners-up will each receive 1.2 million pounds (or about $1.5 million), and the gentlemen’s and ladies’ doubles winners will each receive 540,000 pounds ($682,000 U.S.) per pair. 

The 2019 Woman’s World Cup team is hardly PC (politically correct}. But they were indeed PC (pretty confident). They knew they were the best team and proved it. They spoke their mind, especially about politics and prize money inequity. Star Megan Rapinoe, who knelt during the National Anthem, refused an invitation to the White House even though the team had not been invited yet and still had two games to win to become champions. They were accused of running up the score on Thailand in a 13-0 win with captain Alex Morgan scoring five goals. They were criticized. They didn’t care.

Unlike Wimbledon, FIFA (the governing body of World Cup) decision makers have yet to wake up. Reports stated that FIFA pays out 19 times more for male soccer players than for women. At last year’s Men’s World Cup, FIFA paid around $8,530 per player per day. This year, women received $453 per day.

FIFA said it would double the prize money for the 2023 Women’s World Cup from $30 million to $60 million. That seems like a step in the right direction, until you learn that FIFA is raising the men’s compensation by $40 million to a total of $440 million. The pay gap is actually increasing.

As Rapinoe loves to say, “That is ridiculous.”

We are not talking about non-revenue Duke Women’s field hockey versus high-revenue Duke Basketball, University of Alabama Women’s Golf versus Crimson Tide football or even the WNBA versus the NBA. We are talking about a women’s team that captivated America and the world, were on every national news and entertainment program and received an old-time ticker tape parade in Manhattan on July 10. They made women’s soccer popular, doing FIFA’s job. They should be compensated accordingly and fairly. It is the right thing to do.