Women Soccer Team’s Pay Suit May Spur Action in Other Sports

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Aaron Holt discussed with Bloomberg Law the future of pay equity in professional sports. The U.S. women’s soccer team has a better case for pay equality than most other professional sports teams because it’s one of the few cases where overall revenue and popularity of the sport can’t easily justify the pay disparity between men’s and women’s teams, according to Aaron. In certain circumstances, a 20-game winning top tier women’s team player would earn only 38 percent of what a similarly situated men’s player would earn, according to the complaint filed by women’s soccer players. “Typically, the gender pay disparity between professional athletes has been justified by the relative popularity and revenue of the different leagues,” Holt, who is board-certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, told Bloomberg Law. “For example, Forbes estimated that the WNBA’s revenue for the 2016-2017 season was $52.4 million compared to the $7.368 billion for the NBA.” Holt also added that, as long as the relative popularity and total revenue of a sport remain grossly disproportionate between men’s and women’s leagues, then getting “equal pay across those leagues will remain an uphill climb.”

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