US Women’s Soccer: 2019 Win Could Mean More Than You Know

I like to think of myself as someone who can take emotion out of the conversation when discussing sports, politics, law or any other topic for that matter. Currently, the US Women’s Soccer Team is set to defend their World Cup Title against 23 other teams beginning in June.

This World Cup could possibly be their most important yet and a win could give them massive pull in a bigger battle. The USWNT launched a lawsuit against US Soccer after their last World Cup win for gender discrimination in terms of their pay.

Me personally, I don’t buy into the social justice warrior crap. I want facts. I want examples. I want to get behind anything that holds water and merit. So when I hear gender equality pay gap, I usually scoff at the notion because the people arguing for it tend to leave out traveling, risk and other factors that include higher pay in jobs.

I am not saying it doesn’t exist. I am just saying show me where.

For the Women’s team, they may have a case. But it is still shaky.

Although US Soccer claimed the Men’s team made more in 2016, that was allegedly not the case. After reports came out that the US Women’s team actually generated $23 million more in 2016, the athletes were still only paid 1/4 of their male counterparts.

The drawback to this is the fact that the Men’s Soccer is more profitable as a whole and  the US Men’s team is benefiting from that alone.

Forbes posted an article on March 7th stating that France earned $38 million for winning the World Cup last year in Russia while the winner of the Women’s World Cup will earn just $4 million.

From a global standpoint, the men are obviously crushing the women. Domestically it is a bit of a different tune. In a year when the USWNT won the World Cup, they apparently made more than the men. Their argument is they should be compensated and not make 1/4 the pay.

Now of course, sports have collective bargaining agreements in place for such disparities. But, when the women are playing artificial turf more than men, making less when they earn more and outperforming, it is not a good look for US Soccer.

Comparison of Women’s 2015 and Men’s 2018 World Cup Bonuses

  • Roster Bonus: 76K / 15K
  • Qualify for World Cup: 2.5M / 345K
  • Reach Round of 16: 3.6M (min) / 0
  • Reach Quarterfinals: 5M / 0
  • Reach Semi-Final: 4.5M / n/a
  • Finish 4th: n/a / 240K
  • Finish 3rd: 1.25M / 480K
  • Finish 2nd: 6.25M / 780K
  • Win: 9.3M / 1.8M

We live in a world where everything is under a very fine microscope especially sports. That could bode well for the Women this year if they go on to win the Cup. In no surprise, they are the heavy favorite at 2-1 odds.

Aside from losing Abby Wambach and Hope Solo, they field many of the same stars filled on the squad in 2015 including Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn.

Considering several of their stars are at the forefront of the lawsuit filed against US Soccer, a win can add fuel to the fire.

One of the numbers I am looking at is the TV ratings, which could potentially play a huge factor. The bigger the ratings, the more revenue is generally earned.

NFL has a monopoly on the sports world as not a single league in the US can touch their ratings even on a down year. Much of that comes from the TV ratings. A regular Monday for the NFL will boast the same rating as Game 3 of a World Series or NBA Final.

That being said, the US Women’s World Cup team put up a 15.2 in the final of the 2015 World Cup. That marked the highest rating for a soccer broadcast in US history. Care to guess who has dominated television ratings in the world of US Soccer? The women.

In 2011, the women’s world cup final ranked as the most-viewed soccer telecast (regardless of gender) ever on ESPN; the sixth-most viewed soccer telecast ever on a single network (also, regardless of gender); and the second-most viewed daytime program in the history of cable television. It drew a 7.4 U.S. rating and 13.458 million viewers.

In 2012, the U.S.-Canada women’s Olympic semifinal contributed the then- single most-viewed half-hour of the Olympics on NBCSN.

Three days later, the U.S.-Japan gold medal match drew 4.350 million viewers on NBC Sports Network, the largest audience in the history of that network. The previous record was the 2010 Stanley Cup hockey final.

Last year’s Women’s World Cup, in which the U.S. triumphed over Japan, saw the biggest numbers ever for the women’s game, and offered some striking comparisons to men’s sports.

Early-round matches each had at least 3-million viewers, ranking them in the top-10 most-watched women’s games ever . One match against Nigeria, which was broadcast against the NBA Finals and America’s Got Talent, still netted 5 million viewers.

The semi-final against Germany notched 8.4 million viewers, giving it the largest audience ever for a World Cup semifinal on a single network, regardless of gender.

And the final was the most-watched soccer telecast ever in the U.S., with a total of 26.7 million viewers. That topped the previous record of 26.5 million for the 2014 Men’s World Cup Final. The previous high for a women’s match was the 18 million for the 1999 final.

Before someone in the back of the class screams “BuT iT’S oNlY SoCcEr! aNd tHe US mEn SuCk!,” let me educate you.

It would be completely unfair to compare that rating to the NFL given what I stated before. However, I will compare it to the MLB and NBA. Never mind the fact that the stand alone game of 15.2 is above the average rating of every championship series collectively since 2010 (I didn’t bother going back further)…

NBA Finals Series Average Ratings Since 2010

  • 2010: 10.6
  • 2011: 10.2
  • 2012: 10.1
  • 2013: 10.4
  • 2014: 9.3
  • 2015: 11.6
  • 2016: 11.4
  • 2017: 11.3
  • 2018: 10.0

MLB World Series Average Ratings Since 2010

  • 2010: 8.4
  • 2011: 10.0
  • 2012: 7.6
  • 2013: 8.9
  • 2014: 8.2
  • 2015: 8.6
  • 2016: 12.9
  • 2017: 10.7
  • 2018: 8.3

It also would be unfair to compare the entire series as games 1-3 usually draw the least amount of eyes. I will dive into game 6 and 7 since those draw the highest ratings on average.

Combining both leagues, there have been a total of 10 Game 6’s. Of those 10, not a single one eclipsed the Women’s World Cup Final. The highest rated game 6 was the 2015 Cleveland Cavs v Golden State Warriors which bolstered a 13.4.

As for Game 7, a grand total of seven have been played since 2010. Of those game 7s, every NBA game graded higher. The three NBA Finals Game 7s finished with a 15.3, 15.6 and 15.8 respectively. Despite all being higher, the World Cup Final was right on par with those games.

Crossing into the World Series, 2 of 4 were rated higher. That includes the 2016 Cubs win which ended with a 21.8 (highest since 2001). The other Game 7s were 13.7, 14.7 and 15.8 respectively.

Aside from the outliers (like the Cubs), the rating of the Women’s World Cup Final was right on par with two sports that are much larger in the US.

As we have seen in the past, the USWNT has dominated the ratings and continued to show out. In 2019 when that microscope is much larger, this World Cup could mean a huge payday for the women should they play to their potential. They are the centerpiece of Women’s Soccer and have been since the inception of the Women’s World Cup back in 1991.

The women have never finished worse than 3rd in seven appearances which include 3 World Cup Championships. They are the only team to finish in the top 3 in every single tournament.

Another championship run in 2019 could certainly help their case in the lawsuit and allow them to bargain for more money in the new CBA.

As the lawsuit continues to heat up, both sides will dive into revenue generation and how it is distributed. If the USWNT was not winning games, winning cups and not generating money or viewers, this would be a non issue. However, they are.

When people bring up discrimination toward women in the workplace, I won’t say it doesn’t exist. I will say show me the facts. In the case of the US Women, there are plenty of facts to support the claim that they may be being treated unfairly with their pay grade.

As the lawsuit and CBA continue to roll, they are going to have to look at pay structure since the men and women are paid entirely different when it comes to the National Teams. They will have to look at sponsorships and per diem disparities. There are so many factors and sides to the suit making it a total cluster of mess.

But one thing remains certain, come Tuesday June 11, I will be cheering mightily for the USWNT as they embark on another World Cup win. Get it ladies!

 

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