‘Girls of Summer’ Excite, Inspire and Should be More Equal in Prize Money

Still on vacation but my fingers are restless:

I took time out from the sun and the sand to watch the last few minutes of the US Women’s domination of defending champion Japan. It was impossible not to get caught up in the excitement of their run through the World Cup. The enthusiasm was dampened a bit when it was disclosed that the Women’s World Cup winner got $2 million while Germany, winners of the 2014 men’s World Cup, raked in $35 million. FIFA, the world governing body for soccer, decides the payout (the men’s teams get $1.5 million each just for touching the ball).

US Women soccer
US Women wins 2015 World Cup. Photo: SI.com

Let me make the blanketest of all blanket statements: Anyone who does not believe in equal pay for equal work is a Neanderthal. And that includes those who find an excuse to vote against any measure that would level the playing field.

The question is, does equal pay for equal work apply to sports where the prize money could be based on how much the entire tournament brings in worldwide? To The Shad, that argument only goes so far. $2 million v. $35 million is a joke and needs to be changed.

Let’s take the fact that (at least in my opinion) just like tennis, the women are more fun to watch. For the most part, they don’t fall to the ground upon any contact and writhe like they’ve just been shot like the men do. They also seem to be more team-oriented (see the incomparable Carli Lloyd take off her captain’s armband and give it to the retiring Abby Wambach).

The record-breaking TV audience for the women is encouraging. The band-wagon affect was evident and encouraging as well. The thought of an uptick for the Women’s Professional League is exciting but questionable. And I’d be duplicitous if I didn’t admit the allure of Cristen Press or Sydney LeRoux.

I can’t tell you how impossible it is to watch a Lionel Messi or a Cristiano Renaldo whine and complain to the referees. Best of all, each of the US women are the girl next door meets a pit bull. Wonderful to watch.

The women get short shrift in just about every respect. Having played in high school for four years and Division I collegiately for a year, I was interested in the tournament from the start. But trying to find FOX Sports 1 on the cable system was tough or nonexistent (NBC Sports channel I knew because they had the NHL). In addition, the women played on crappy surfaces that resulted in more road rash than they would get playing on the precisely manicured lawns the men enjoy.

Like the USOC, FIFA is run by old men who haven’t changed their thinking since the 1930s. That needs to be changed as well.

The bottom line is that the women and their game deserve more respect and at least more equal money.