The fight for women’s exposure and equality in sports is ongoing. It still has a long way to go.
On April 16, the No. 18 women’s soccer team faced off in their final game of the season against ranked No. 5 rival UCLA. The highly anticipated game came after the Women of Troy came close to defeating them in their last matchup against the Bruins, who were undefeated at the time before losing to Arizona State University the day after.
There was another game to be played the next day by the football team as they got ready to perform in the spring showcase. This game was not a regular-season game but a game to showcase where the teams are heading into the offseason leading up to their 2021 season opener.
Both games were to be played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, so there was not an issue of seating fans. But, both teams did not receive the same allotted amount of allowed attendance.
The spring football showcase allowed 5,000 fans to enter the Coliseum to watch the scrimmage which encompassed fans, media and family.
The same was not allowed for the women’s soccer team. The number did not compare to the showcase. The women’s soccer team was only allowed to have four fans per player — the women’s soccer team roster is less than half the size of the men’s football roster.
At a time when women are standing up and using their voices to advocate for the same rights as their male counterparts, situations such as this demonstrates where the priority lies for universities.
It is not fair that a team who is going to the playoffs could not have more than four fans per player for their game in the same venue as the football team.
Consistently, it is shown how much more work has to be done for women in sports to be seen and heard when wanting the attention for the game they love, and equal treatment as the other athletes representing the school.
Equal seating is not too much to ask for, and it should not have been a situation where favoritism was displayed in that manner.
Women’s sports cannot grow to their highest potential without the exposure and attendance of fans that want to support these women as they play.
The women’s soccer team put on another hard-fought game to force the Bruins to a 2-2 draw and head into the playoffs with confidence that they will go far. But, students and fans would not know this because of the seating limitations. The only way to support the team is to let the fans come watch them.
If 5,000 football fans could follow coronavirus health protocols while sitting in the Coliseum with their mask and 6-feet social distancing while watching the scrimmage, then the same should have been permitted for the women’s soccer team.
Despite how some may feel in terms of which sports generate more money, it is not about the money. Instead, it is about the respect and dignity these women athletes deserve.
The failure on the part of the University to further push the advocacy of women’s work continues to reinforce the inequality for women. In the United States, women are paid less and are systematically under-appreciated. Instead of standing with the women at the forefront, they have succumbed to their favoritism towards men athletics.
This issue is not only on a university level but on a professional level. For example the U.S. women’s soccer team recently reached a partial settlement for better wages and working conditions for the World-Cup winning team. The lawsuit occurred in March 2019 and two years later proves why the team continued to fight for the justice and fair treatment that they deserve.
There is no excuse for the visible display of disrespect and discouragement towards women in sports. It is time to stop the contradictions and show actual effort in the expansion of women athletes. They deserve better and shouldn’t have to ask for it.