The Women’s Athlete Perspective on the Disparities Between Men’s and Women’s Sports at the Collegiate Level

By Kiersten McCollum

The U.S. Women’s soccer team has just settled their equal pay lawsuit after a six-year legal battle and yet discrepancies between Women’s and Men’s sports continue at a rampant rate. While inequity at the professional sports level is beginning to receive more national attention, these same issues at the collegiate level are still yet to be widely covered. despite collegiate athletics being the root of many of the problems seen in professional leagues. 

“Honestly, after looking at the numbers and stuff and being realistic, you can’t be too mad [that] we don’t make the same amount of money because where are you getting the money from,” said Rayna Ross, a sophomore Biology Pre-Medicine major on Xavier University’s Women’s Basketball team. “Money comes from views and if no one is caring enough to watch where would you get the money from,” Ross added.

Ross’ perspective is one that is widely shared amongst athletes in women’s sports. When it comes to spectator interest in sports, women’s athletics, in comparison to men’s athletics, are usually the ones to receive a lower percentage of consumer viewing, both at the professional or collegiate level. Bailey Whitney, a freshman Mass Communication major on Xavier University’s Women’s Tennis team provided some insight on discrepancies at both levels. 

“How they’re [professional women’s athletes] treated, how they’re talked about, how they’re paid…I do believe there are a bunch of discrepancies,” said Bailey Whitney, a freshman Mass Communication major on Xavier University’s Women’s Tennis team. “Personally, for me when it comes to my coaches, I feel like with the guys they’re allowed to get away with things much more easily and for the girls, we have to show up early, we have to work twice as hard, we kind of have to be perfect,” Whitney added. 

All of the athletes on the Women’s sports teams here at the Xavier University of Louisiana that were interviewed disclosed that the inequity of how they are treated and regarded in their respective sports is something that they think about regularly. 

“I think about it because the boys [baseball team] have this stadium and I’m like okay they have all these fans coming to their games and we only have two bleachers, that’s not kind of fair…but there’s nothing we can do about it,” said Amaya Eubanks, a senior Sociology major on Xavier University’s Softball team.

When placed on the receiving end of an unfair and discriminatory system it can be difficult to maintain a level of optimism and hope that is often so easily expressed by those who benefit from the system’s existence. The athletes on these Women’s teams are very realistic about the path they’ve chosen and while all wish things were different, most are more than aware of the likelihood of things changing drastically. At the end of the day, these athletes are looking for the same thing their male counterparts are, respect.

“No matter the gender, being an athlete is something that requires a lot of hard work, dedication, blood, sweat, and tears. And I don’t feel women should be treated differently when they put in the same hours, they tear their body up the same way, we go through the same injuries, and face all the same hardships doing the same thing and we’re just not taken seriously. I just wish people would take us seriously,” said Ross.

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