The Bottom Line: Female athletes deserve equal pay

Redshirt sophomore Savannah DeMelo and the women’s soccer team will start Pac-12 play this week against Washington. (Tal Volk | Daily Trojan)

I hate to admit it, but when I first got to USC, I was a little bummed that there was no men’s soccer team. I knew that I wanted to cover soccer, so when I found out the school didn’t have a men’s team I thought I had lost my best opportunity. However, I have now realized that I was guided by an ignorant and misogynistic thought process. I was wrong. Very wrong.

All of my encounters so far with watching women’s soccer at the collegiate level have been beyond entertaining. I have covered and played high school soccer for many years. My hometown team, Millburn High School, is recognized as one of the best soccer high schools in New Jersey. I have seen a lot of talented players coming through the ranks at Millburn, but I don’t think I have seen players as skilled as the women on the USC soccer team.

I’ve never seen someone so dominant in possession as redshirt sophomore midfielder Savannah DeMelo. She is gifted beyond belief. She glides past players with ease and is as positionally smart as any non-professional player I have ever seen.

Senior forward Leah Pruitt is the hardest working forward I have seen live at a non-professional level. The only time she ever stops running and helping her team is when she is on the bench. These two players have mastered their craft to the most elite level possible.

When someone masters their craft as these women have done, it is expected that they will receive some kind of reward for their skillset. In many cases, this means that they will get paid a lot of money once they turn pro. However, the sad reality is that these two amazing athletes will never get paid the amount they deserve post-graduation simply because of people with the same ignorant and misogynistic thought process I had before ever watching the Women of Troy play.

Broadcast companies are hesitant to claim the rights to women’s sports because they believe that they will not produce the same amount of ratings and revenue as men’s sports do. Or, if they do claim the rights, they are paying a lower amount than they do for the rights to men’s sports.

For example, according to The Washington Post, ESPN and the WNBA agreed upon a rights fee of $25 million. In comparison, LeBron James will make $153.3 million over four years for the Lakers or roughly $38 million a year. So, one basketball player is making more money in his yearly salary than the entire WNBA makes from its television deal.

James fully deserves his money. He is an amazing basketball player who drives a lot of attention toward the NBA. However, there are also female athletes who are dominant within their sport and deserve to get paid at an elite level. That being said, these women won’t get paid until people change their views about women’s sports.

People need to understand that women’s sports are just as entertaining, physically and tactically sound as men’s sports. However, people will not fully grasp this concept until they can actually watch it. That means it is up to broadcasting companies to broadcast more women’s sports and, furthermore, do a better job marketing and advertising them.

The U.S. women’s national soccer team are defending World Cup champions. That means that the United States is producing the most dominant soccer talent in the world. Yet, Lifetime, a channel not necessarily known for its sports, only broadcasts one NWSL game a week. One can only imagine how little that broadcasting deal is worth.

The USC women’s soccer team completely changed my view on female sports. They play nice, entertaining soccer and at an elite level. I believe that if USC had a men’s team, I would find watching them play equally as entertaining as I do watching these women play. Sports are about pure talent and class, and women’s sports have an equal amount of talent and class as do men’s sports. Broadcasting companies should take a chance and pay up to claim the rights to women sports. People need to be more open-minded about female sports and get over the belief that they are less entertaining than male sports. These women deserve to get paid equally for being as equally dominant at their craft.

To players like DeMelo and Pruitt, I’m sorry for my prior ignorant, misogynistic belief that this wouldn’t be as fun to cover as a men’s team. I’m proud to say you proved me wrong and made me feel like an idiot along the way.

The bottom line: Imagine being the best at your craft and getting paid nothing for it. That should not be the case and needs to change.

Robby Aronson is a sophomore majoring in journalism. His column, “The Bottom Line,” runs every other Wednesday.