With the U.S. women’s national soccer team off to a strong start in the World Cup, the debate over whether the female players should receive the same pay as their male counterparts is back in the spotlight.
Many have taken up the “equal pay” mantle, including former tennis star Billie Jean King, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic presidential candidates Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren.
On Wednesday, conservative commentator Ben Shapiro explained why he disagrees with the notion that it’s “sexist” for the U.S. Soccer Federation to pay the men’s national team more than the women’s team.
“Until the USSF, and other sports organizers, stop viewing female athletes as inherently inferior and their play as fundamentally substandard, women will have to combine on-field victories with off-field activism,” Lindsay Parks Pieper and Tate Royer wrote in The Post in an article titled “The biggest fight facing the U.S. women’s soccer team isn’t on the field.”
In the Times piece, headlined “Sex, the World Cup, and Breaking up the Boys’ Club,” Emily Ryall, who teaches philosophy at the University of Gloucestershire, argued, “Great sport requires only three things: excellence of skill, uncertainty of outcome and a crescendo of drama until the last second. Gender or sex is irrelevant.”
It’s relevant to some of those things, particularly excellence of skill, Shapiro said. He pointed to the undeniable physical differences between men and women.
“Men are generally better at sports than women because they have different musculature than women and different skill sets than women,” he said. “In the same way that a Little League game is not the same as a Major League Baseball game, certain sports are not the same if men and women play them.
“The WNBA is not the same as the NBA. There’s a reason no one is paying to watch women shoot layups.”
Shapiro called the notion that women are being “victimized” by U.S. soccer “absolutely silly.” He noted that while MLS has been successful, every attempt to start a women’s soccer league has failed.
“That’s because there’s just not enough of a crowd of people who are willing to watch women play soccer,” he said.
Shapiro pointed to the difference in earnings between the men’s and women’s World Cups: The 2010 World Cup for men brought in about $4 billion, he said, whereas the women’s World Cup one year later brought in $73 million in revenue.
“The reason for that is because people aren’t as interested in women playing soccer as men playing soccer — not because they are sexist, but because women are not as good at soccer as men,” he said.
“People say, ‘Those were just scrimmages,'” he said. “OK. Imagine the men’s World Cup team losing to an under-14 boys team. Is that a thing that would happen unless they actually threw the game? Of course not.
“Men and women are different. … If we cannot acknowledge that there is a difference between the men and the women, then I do not know why we have eyeballs and functioning prefrontal cortexes.”
Shapiro said he wouldn’t tune into a tennis match featuring women’s star Serena Williams against Justine Henin, as referenced in Ryall’s Op-Ed, but would watch men’s star Rafael Nadal play Roger Federer, “because they are both better players” than the two women.
“Serena Williams, before she sort of got on the woke bandwagon with regard to ‘men and women have the exact same skill sets,’ she would openly admit she could not play in the men’s league because she is not a man and does not have the same skill set as men,” he said.
Williams has a 13.33 Universal Tennis Rating, putting her in the range of NCAA Division I men’s players.
In March, 28 women from the women’s national soccer team filed a discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer, arguing that their earning less than the men’s team is a violation of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The women earn $3,600 per game, while the men earn $5,000 per game, according to Vox. Also, the women received $15,000 bonuses for winning the World Cup in 2015, whereas the men received $55,000 bonuses for making it to the Round of 16 in 2014.
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