Shame on you, USWNT

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Shame on you, United States Women’s National Team.

You’ve recently filed an action with the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee (EEOC) against the United States Soccer Federation regarding wage discrimination.  Equality, in regards to wages, has been an ongoing issue for years. Throughout multiple professions. Everyone whispers around the water cooler. It’s normal to feel unappreciated by your boss. However life moves on.  Many of us are left baffled at the thought of this. Who do you think you are?

What arrogance, claiming wage discrimination, with your FOUR Olympic gold medals and your THREE World Cup championships. Can’t you just be happy with your shiny, pretty, things?

Your most recent World Cup was just won last year. With its outrageous attendance, record breaking viewership, and multiple internet trends. That doesn’t give you the right to be upset about being paid severely less than your male national team counterparts who receive bonuses for getting eliminated. It is COMPLETELY FAIR for you to share a winning pool of 1.8 million dollars amongst your team while the men’s team receives 9 million for losing. At least you get something, right?

Who cares if the men’s U-23 team didn’t qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio? You should just be grateful you’re even going. Be grateful that you practically dominated your CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying competition while cutting down a roster to meet Olympic requirement after so many of your former national team members retired. You should be appreciative that you can still be so competitive while facing such obstacles.

Everyone plays friendlies! Both men and woman! See? That’s equal! So what if you played more games than the MNT last year? Why must you keep mentioning that the MNT can make UP TO $17,625 if they win for facing top ten teams? The men only make $5,000 if they lose! That’s at least KIND OF close to the $1,350 that you’ll receive no matter who you play and ONLY IF YOU WIN. Seriously, you guys are totally ungrateful.

You’re supposed to be professionals here. You’re supposed to professionally accept that the United States Soccer at least TRIES to make room for women in the game. Why can’t you just smile and nod and just keep playing the game you’re constantly asked to help grow? So what if that means playing some games on poor playing surfaces or artificial turf? Just because the MNT only plays games on natural surfaces doesn’t mean you should as well. It is perfectly acceptable to lose one of your most popular star players to an ACL injury due to extremely poor field conditions.

Just because one of you went down with a horrific injury on a poor practice field in Hawaii, right before OLYMPIC QUALIFYING, doesn’t mean that you had to cancel the game. The rest of you could’ve played! A little turf pulling up never hurt anyone right? Come on. HASHTAG GROW THE GAME.

Equality. Fair pay. Respect. Those are just outrageous ideas that have no place in the world. What does it mean when a woman in your position is treated like this? What does that say about the millions of women who don’t play professional sports? You have female fans from all backgrounds. Who are blue collar. White collar. Doctors, teachers, artists, media, nurses, activists, restaurateurs, customer service professionals. Should they just go around and start valuing the effort they put into their careers? That’s ridiculous.

Is it because you believe? Is that why you are doing this? Aren’t you worried about the kind of message that sends to young girls? Don’t you know that women’s soccer is primarily marketed to families with young daughters? The last thing you want to do is instill these types of virtues into the young girls who idolize you.

However, maybe the message above is just what we’re all used to hearing. Maybe at the end of the day it’s not JUST about dollars and cents. If the conversation regarding wage discrimination between men and woman has been going on for decades, then maybe the message is actually a movement. Look at what happened in 1999. A women’s soccer team were told they could not sell a major soccer tournament in the United States. They proved everyone wrong, selling out some of the largest stadiums throughout the country, captivating fans of all ages, from grandparents, to 13 year olds.

All those 13 year old girls grew up. Some are in the stands rooting for the same team they loved as teenagers. Some are now even in that locker room as members of that team. Wherever life has taken them, they’re living in this moment with this team as adults. Still having to hear the same, old, tired arguments regarding equality and fair pay. It’s discouraging and encouraging all at the same time.

It’s not 1985, or 1991, or 1999 any more. It’s not even 2015. It is 2016, the middle of an election year, and this debate has been on repeat. Redone. Remixed. But it still exists. Maybe this team will change the tune. The beat already feels different today.

Maybe that’s what is scary and exciting about this moment now. There is a new generation watching and listening. What kind of world will this be when these girls grow up become women who recognize their own self-worth? For now we can only wait and hope maybe this time “She Believes” will become “We All Believe In Equal Pay for Equal Work”.