“Focus, determination, pain, disappointment, excitement, suspense, anger, relief: it’s all a part of the game whether you are a man or a woman.”
-Annie Spewak (former lacrosse player)
thletic passion is gender neutral. But we have to admit that for some weird reason (maybe that became a tradition even…) men sports are still taken and supported more seriously than women’s. In the USA, 40 percent of all sports people are women. Only 6-8 percent of the total sports media coverage is devoted to women athletes. Additionally, male athletes get around $ 180 million more in athletic scholarships each year than females do.
Last year Women’s World Cup soccer final is a good example of the still ongoing athlete gender inequality. This WWC soccer final had 25,4 million viewers which made the game the most watched soccer match in the USA history. YET the players were far less compensated than their male colleagues.
This sports-gender inequality topic is of essential importance to one of the best world athletes, one of my favorite inspirational individuals- Serena Williams. I believe that the more athlete gender equality advocates we have in our planet Earth the faster REAL positive changes we will witness.
Serena Williams, in her open letter, addresses the obstacles women need to overcome for equality: “People call me one of the “world’s greatest female athletes”. Do they say LeBron is one of the world’s best male athletes? Is Tiger? Federer? Why not? They are certainly not female. We should never let this go unchallenged. We should always be judged by our achievements, not by our gender.”
Only with resilience and pushing for greatness, she says, we can overcome the hardships.
Gender divisions in sports have been an even hotter topic than usual due to the comments by a retired American tennis player John Patrick McEnroe who controversially claimed that Serena Williams would be ranked 700th if she played on the men’s tennis circuit. He emphasized Williams only being the greatest female tennis player.
Forbes magazine gives an interesting thought “…if Williams was male she'd be a top five highest-paid athlete. The gender pay gap in her case amounts to tens of millions of dollars. Some day, endorsement deals will be more equal, and there will not be a gender distinction when women are presented as champions because Williams paved the way.”
And this is only one in a million example of what female athletes have to go through every day. Gender should not determine you how good athlete you are, but your determination, dedication, passion for the game should. I hope one day there would be more respect for both our strengths and weaknesses, similarities, and differences without labels and unnecessary gender race.
Serena Williams sums it all up: “We must continue to dream big, and in doing so, we empower the next generation of women to be just as bold in their pursuits.”