As the U.S. Women's National Team heads home from winning a consecutive World Cup, a battle on the homefront begins.
In March, all 28 members of the U.S. women’s team filed a class action lawsuit against their employer, the United States Soccer Federation. The suit alleges that USSF pays women players less than members of the U.S. men’s team in violation of the U.S. Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Natasha Brison and Gregg Bennett are professors of sport management in the Department of Health and Kinesiology at Texas A&M University. They have interviewed well-known female athletes about the barriers they face in building their personal brands and exposure.
The Texas A&M team's research found that women felt their athletic performance was not enough, that they had to have "something else" other than just performance.
Brison says that's the crux of the argument in this lawsuit. She says the players will argue that they are superior athletes (Brison adds, "We know that.") and the USSF will argue that the market doesn't have the demand for what these women are doing.
"But this past Women's World Cup definitely proves that a fallacy--it's so wrong," said Brison. "If you look at the viewership, records were set across the U.S., globally."
The network that carried the Cup, Fox, outsold all of their advertisements, according to Brison. She also says Nike reports that women's team jerseys have far outsold men's team jerseys.
"There is enough," said Brison of the USWNT. "The market does support the women."
"This group performed so admirably well...it's helped bridge the chasm," said Bennett. "The stuff that's going on now is terrific marketing, whereas a lot of times there's not good marketing for women's athletics, as compared to men's."
For the full conversation with Brison and Bennett, see the video player above. For more about their research, see the Related Links.