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Are Female Athletes Always Respected Equally?

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The U.S. Olympic team has been selected and is ready to go to Tokyo on July 23! And the women’s teams look strong and impressive. But are female athletes treated the same as their male counterparts? Although misogyny in sports is still prevalent today, the problem is slightly more controlled than in previous decades: Katie Ledecky, Simone Biles and the United States women’s soccer team are some of today’s most notable competitors. Even so, here is a brief look at how female competitors have been treated compared to male athletes.

How have women been treated in sports?

Misogyny has been found in every aspect of professional sports, including, but not limited to, athletes’ treatment by coaches, media coverage, leadership opportunities and compensation. For example, last week, FINA ruled against the use of swim caps made for black hair in the Olympics. Luckily, the board stated it will revisit the decision. And last month, Australian swimmer Maddie Groves dropped out of the Olympic swimming trials because of “misogynistic perverts” in the sport. Earlier in the year, Yoshiro Mori, head of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, resigned after he was denounced for making sexist comments about women. And in a long-winded battle, the USWNT team, especially Rapinoe and Morgan, continues to fight for pay equal to their male soccer peers. 

But in recent years, women have been treated better than before. For example, in 2020, the Women’s National Basketball League and players reached an eight-year agreement that would drastically improve compensation and benefits for the athletes. And at the 2016 Olympics, U.S. women constituted an unprecedented number of the team, with 292 women participating.

These women are some of the most inspiring athletes. Here are some names you should look for in Tokyo this summer.

Katie Ledecky

Ledecky is female swimming’s most decorated athlete and is considered the best female swimmer of all time. At just 15 years old, Ledecky won a gold medal in the 800m freestyle. She also finished third in the 400m. Currently, she holds world records in the women’s 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle. Also, she has five Olympic gold medals, one silver medal and 15 world championship gold medals. It will be exciting to watch Ledecky continue to break her own world records and dominate the swimming scene.

Simone Biles

Biles is recognized as one of the best gymnasts in history. She is the first female gymnast to win three consecutive World All-Around titles and has been undefeated in the all-around competition since 2013. Biles is also the first female African American all-around world champion. She is the most decorated gymnast in World Championship history with 14 medals. Additionally, she has done four skills no one has done before, so she has four flips named after her. Currently, from Rio 2016, Biles has four Olympic gold medals and one bronze medal. But with her track record, she will definitely pick up more Olympic medals in Tokyo.

The United States Women’s Soccer Team

The United States women’s national soccer team is ranked as the best female soccer team in the world. The team has four Women’s World Cup titles, four Olympic gold medals and eight CONCACAF Gold Cups. Forwards Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan are two of many superstars on the team. Morgan and Rapinoe both won the 2015 and 2019 World Cups and an Olympic gold medal in 2012. They are both back, healthy, injury-free and ready to win another gold medal this summer.

How do you think women are treated in professional sports? Is it getting better? And which female athlete are you most excited to see perform in the Olympics? Katie Ledecky? Simone Biles? Leave your comments below.

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