The Daily Show recently did a package about the latest issue going on between with the USSF and the US Women’s National Soccer Team and the wage gap they are facing.
I was watching the episode with my brothers and being a female player (and recently coming back from a women’s empowerment trip), I expressed my feelings of remorse that it was an issue that they were not getting paid as much as the men.
We were having a civilized but heated discussion when my brother blatantly told me, “You don’t even watch the women’s games. They have games constantly but you never watch them.”
And he was right.
If you asked me to name at least ten players that play for El Tri, I could do it without any hesitation.
I am the product of a Mexican soccer player. My father grew up in the farmlands of Guanajuato, Mexico and soccer was his only love. The youngest of eight children, my father followed his older brother everywhere and grew to love the game. Although he could handle the ball well with his feet, it was the spot between the two posts that really called his name.
I was never able to witness my father during his prime but legend has it that he was good—very good. He dove for every ball. He controlled his defense to the T and even when his men made errors that resulted in goals, he kept their confidence up to keep them focused. The love for the game kept him sane and when he had his children, he wanted to pass on that feeling of love to them as well.
My love for soccer and El Tri comes from my father. Being the only daughter in a family with an older brother and two younger brothers, my father often forgot I was a girl. This is not even a comical statement. I had to be as fast as my brothers. I had to shoot as well as they could. I needed to have the determination and will to play the sport as much as they did. If I couldn’t keep up, it wasn’t enough. I had to do better. Needed to be better.
Wrapped up in his determination to make his children the best they could be, (and from his own personal privilege) he failed to think about who I was: a girl.
My father is not intentionally a sexist man and I never believe it his intention to not let me know about girl soccer players. Clearly growing up, we knew about Mia Hamm and there were girls in my club teams or in AYSO you would hear about going to the play for the Olympic Development Program.
But I have to admit: I am a women who knows very little about women’s soccer.
And not just the US women’s team (I watch some of the games but I’m not dedicated at all). As a lover of El Tri,I don’t even know anyone on the Mexican Women’s National Team. Not one woman. I still honestly do not even know who the coach is without Google-ing it.
In fact, today, I retweeted a tweet from a woman on the Mexican National Soccer Team but did not realize she played for the team until I checked out her profile (even more of a disclaimer: I only retweeted it because I follow Kobe Bryant).
Deal. https://t.co/dwclqJCFhT— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) May 10, 2016
My brother was right. I am part of the problem. And it’s not just me. All around me I see lots of girls being proud of players like Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, or former player Abby Wambach. And that's solely domestic players. The only real international player I know is the Brazilian player, Marta. But a majority of us are not watching Women’s Soccer with such dedication as we do men’s tournaments or leagues. I don’t know the NWSL’s teams nor do I get excited about the Women’s World Cup as much as I am looking forward to the Men’s World Cup in 2018.
Is it the societal patriarchy that still exists that hinders me to know more about or want to celebrate “my own kind”? Maybe. Is it the media’s fault for not reporting or giving the same kind of coverage to women’s soccer at all levels the way they do for men’s soccer? Probably. Is it my own fault because of the way that I was raised and how I focus on personal preferences to choose what aspects of soccer I follow?
It could be all of these factors. There is no right answer as of now. Only that this current situation going on with the US Women’s National Team has allowed for a larger discussion to begin when it comes to women’s soccer and at what point we will begin to see them on the same platform as their counterpart. At what point will the clichéd, “one of the guys” no longer be a form of validating a female soccer players ability to play well? At what point will we actually start paying everyone the amount they deserve to be paid?
And it’s not just me that needs to be paying attention to women’s soccer. It’s a much larger part of society who has turned their back to this part of soccer and like me, should start giving it the respect it deserves.