The gender divide in sports

Kennedi Williams | Staff Writer

“You owe me an apology.”

These words – spoken by tennis legend Serena Williams to an umpire who accused her of cheating during the U.S. Open women’s final Sept. 8 – will be remembered forever.

Because of these words, Williams has faced countless attacks where she has been called “out of control” and “a bully.” Critics also say she has “set back the cause of women’s equality.”

However, Williams has also received an outpouring of support from fellow athletes.

“When a woman is emotional, she’s ‘hysterical’ and she’s penalized for it,” said Billie Jean King, one of the all-time great tennis players and an advocate for women’s equality in sports and athletics. “When a man does the same, he’s ‘outspoken’ and there are no such repercussions. Thank you, Serena Williams, for calling out this double standard. More voices are needed to do the same.”

African American women not only have to deal with racism in today’s society but sexism, too. Each morning a black woman wakes up, she must prepare to fight not one, but two battles.

“I honestly don’t know much about what is going on with Serena Williams,” said Hampton University freshman Kaylah Johnson, an elementary education major from Connecticut. “She shouldn’t have to worry about being stereotyped.”

African American women have long faced discrimination in the workplace – judged for things such as their name and the way they choose to style their hair. Black women have been forced to assimilate to the society around them in order to get a good job and avoid harassment in the workplace.

Being told that your dreads are not “professional enough” or that your afro looks “unkempt” are just two of the many ways black women can be discriminated against at their jobs. These things, unfortunately, have been happening since African American women were let into the job industry.

Women in sports also have faced discrimination for years. From track and field to basketball to tennis, there has always been a clear divide between men and women when it comes to sports.

According to Deadspin, WNBA players only receive 22 percent of all basketball related income, as opposed to the 50 percent NBA players are making. In order for women playing professional basketball to make more money, a lot of them choose to go overseas during the offseason.

“Ninety percent of the league goes overseas,” Skylar Diggins-Smith, who plays for the WNBA’s Dallas Wings, told Deadspin. “And so these women are playing year-round, which is terrible for your body. It’s so much wear and tear.”

The average WNBA salary is $71,000. The average NBA salary is $6.2 million.

This difference not only represents the enormous wage gap that stands between men and women who are professional athletes but also the lack of respect.

Although African American women have come a lot way in terms of progress, they still have a long way to go until their hard work and contributions are appreciated in today’s society.


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