Culture / Sports

U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Awarded $24 Million in Landmark Equal Pay Case

U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Awarded $24 Million in Landmark Equal Pay Case

The U.S. women’s national soccer team (USWNT) will finally receive equal pay with the men’s team, reaching a $24 million settlement with the United States Soccer Federation after a lengthy unequal pay lawsuit. In a joint statement, the Federation (also known as U.S. Soccer) and the U.S. women’s team said: “We are pleased to announce that, contingent on the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement, we will have resolved our longstanding dispute over equal pay and proudly stand together in a shared commitment to advancing equality in soccer.” Twitter contentThis content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.U.S. Soccer, the official governing body of soccer in the U.S., has committed to equal pay across the men’s and women’s soccer teams across all competitions, the FIFA Women’s World Cup included. According to CBS Sports, $22 million will be distributed among the 28 women’s soccer players currently on the team roster, and $2 million will be put towards achieving “post-career goals and charitable efforts related to women’s and girls’ soccer.” Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, who co-captained the team during their World Cup victory in 2019 along with teammate Carli Lloyd, appeared on CBS Mornings and Good Morning America on Tuesday to discuss the news. Rapinoe and Morgan were also joined by U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone. “I think we’re going to look back on this day and say this is the moment that U.S. Soccer changed for the better,” Rapinoe said on Good Morning America. “We can move forward in making soccer the best sport we possibly can in this country and setting up the next generation so much better than we ever had it.” Rapinoe also took to Twitter to share her excitement, with many of her teammates joining in:Twitter contentThis content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.Twitter contentThis content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.Twitter contentThis content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.USWNT’s fight for equal pay has been six years in the making. In March 2016, five team members—Rapinoe, Morgan, Lloyd, Hope Solo, and Becky Sauerbrunn—filed a federal equal pay complaint, citing the fact that they were paid thousands of dollars less than the men’s players. For example, each player in the women’s team could earn $75,000 in bonuses for winning the World Cup, while players in the men’s team could each earn $400,000, according to The Wall Street Journal. In March 2019, all 28 squad members filed a gender discrimination lawsuit, claiming they had been consistently paid less than the U.S. men’s team over the years (despite the men’s team having significantly less success in the sport). And fans joined the fight. ESPN reported that when the team won the 2019 World Cup in France, loud chants of “Equal pay!” rippled through the crowd. Despite their advocacy for fair pay, a lower court dismissed the claims in May 2020 on the basis of contractual differences, according to the Associated Press. The following year, several players appealed, saying that the judge overseeing the case failed to examine pay rates and the number of times the women’s team needed to be victorious in order to be awarded bonus pay.The U.S. women’s soccer team is by far the most successful in international women’s soccer. The team has won the Women’s World Cup a total of four times since the competition began in 1991 and has also won four Olympic gold medals. Their huge international success means this landmark settlement will hopefully have ripple effects for equal pay in women’s sports more broadly. “This is just such a monumental step forward in feeling valued, feeling respected, and just mending our relationship with U.S. Soccer that’s really been full of tension,” said Morgan on Good Morning America. “It’s great to take that step forward. I not only see this as a win for our team or women in sport but for women in general.”Related:

Serena Williams Withdraws From the U.S. Open: ‘I’ll See You Soon’

Serena Williams Withdraws From the U.S. Open: ‘I’ll See You Soon’

This story originally appeared on Glamour.We call the Serena Williams the GOAT for a reason: It takes greatness to recognize when it’s time to put yourself and your health first. The tennis player announced on Instagram on Wednesday, August 25, that she decided to withdraw from the U.S. Open to give herself the space to heal from a torn hamstring. “After careful consideration and following the advice of my doctors and medical team, I have decided to withdraw from the U.S. Open to allow my body to heal completely from a torn hamstring,” she wrote on the social media platform. She continued, “New York is one of the most exciting cities in the world and one of my favorite places to play—I’ll miss seeing the fans but will be cheering everyone on from afar. Thank you for your continued support and love. I’ll see you soon.” Williams has been in recovery since retiring from her first-round match at Wimbledon in June. During the match, she slipped on court and injured her right hamstring. The U.S. Open, which takes place in New York City, is set to being on August 30 and has been an important part of Williams’s athletic career. It’s there that she’s won six singles titles, including her first Grand Slam singles title, in 1999. The last time she missed the tournament was in 2017, during her break from tennis for the birth of her daughter, Olympia. Last year at the U.S. Open, spectators were not allowed to attend due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But little Olympia was there, front and center, to cheer on her mom. Later, Williams was asked what she hoped Olympia saw while watching her play. “Well, I forgot she was coming out, so I hope that she saw her mama fighting,” she replied. “Hi, baby. I don’t think she was paying attention, between you and me. She may have been playing with some princesses upstairs.”Related:

Becca Meyers Withdraws From the Tokyo Paralympics After Being Denied a Care Assistant

Becca Meyers Withdraws From the Tokyo Paralympics After Being Denied a Care Assistant

Becca Meyers pulled out of the Tokyo Games after the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) refused the swimmer’s request that her personal care assistant, who is her mother, be present at the Games. Meyers, a deaf-blind athlete, announced her “agonizing” choice to withdraw from the Paralympic Games and criticized the USOPC in a moving July 20 op-ed for USA Today. The USOPC “denied a reasonable and essential accommodation for me to be able to compete at the Games,” Meyers writes in USA Today. The decision left Meyers with “no choice” but to withdraw, she said on Instagram. “I’m angry, I’m disappointed, but most of all I’m sad to not be representing my country.”Meyers was born with Usher syndrome, a genetic condition that causes loss of hearing and vision (and sometimes balance). The condition accounts for about half of all inherited cases of deaf-blindness, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDOCD). Since 2017, the USOPC has permitted Meyers to have a trusted personal care assistant (PCA), her mother, to help her at international swim competitions, according to her Instagram post. But this year, with non-essential staff reduced and foreign visitors (including athletes’ family members) barred from the Games due to COVID-19 concerns, that changed. “I have repeatedly been told that I do not need my PCA whom I know and trust,” Meyers writes.Meyers says that in an attempt to comply with COVID-19 restrictions, the USOPC designated a single on-staff PCA to assist Meyers—and her 33 fellow swim-team members. “There are eight remaining visually impaired athletes competing on the swim team alone,” Meyers adds, “yet not one person on the swim staff is specifically certified to work with blind or visually impaired athletes.” (The USOPC said in a statement that a PCA with 11 years of experience working with Paralympic swimmers, and 10 other support staff, would be available to the team, according to USA Today.) Meyers points out that PCAs are essential support staff for Paralympians. “Athletes with disabilities are able to compete in a setting like the Paralympics because of PCAs. They help us navigate these foreign venues, from the pool deck, athlete check-in to finding where we can eat,” Meyers writes. “But the biggest support they provide athletes like myself is giving us the ability to trust our surroundings—to feel at home for the short time we’re in this new, unfamiliar environment.” That support is even more important this year, with “the numerous restrictions and barriers that COVID-19 has put up,” Meyers argues. “What happens if there is an emergency in the middle of the night?” she writes. “Masks and distancing have made it incredibly difficult for me to make out what people are doing or saying. If I don’t have someone I can trust, how can I trust that I will be safe?”This is not the first time the USOPC has failed Meyers, she says. At the Rio Paralympics in 2016, where Meyers won gold and silver medals, there was nobody on staff to care for a deaf-blind athlete. “I was overwhelmed navigating the athletes village, finding the bus terminal, making my way to the venues where I needed to compete,” Meyers writes. “I had such issues in and around the dining hall, where I wasn’t able to find the right food to eat, that I started skimping on meals.” The team’s head coach ultimately moved Meyers, who was “crippled with fear and anxiety,” from the village to a nearby hotel with her parents, to help her escape the “potentially dangerous situation” and prepare herself for the competition. “In that moment, I promised myself that I would never be put in that situation again,” Meyers writes. “Yet, here we are.”

Coco Gauff Will Have to Miss the Olympics After Testing Positive for COVID-19

Coco Gauff Will Have to Miss the Olympics After Testing Positive for COVID-19

Star U.S. tennis player Cori “Coco” Gauff tested positive for COVID-19 and will have to skip the Games this year. Gauff, 17, made the announcement on social media this past weekend. “I am so disappointed to share the news that I have tested positive for COVID and won’t be able to play in the Olympic Games in Tokyo,” she wrote in a Twitter statement. “It has always been a dream of mine to represent the USA at the Olympics, and I hope there will be many more chances for me to make this come true in the future. I want to wish Team USA best of luck and a safe games for every Olympian and the entire Olympic family.”Tokyo would have been Gauff’s first Olympic Games and, at just 17 years old, she was tapped to lead the U.S. tennis team earlier this month. Gauff did not say whether or not she’s been vaccinated or if she’s experiencing any symptoms. It’s much less likely for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to get the virus, but it is possible. Gymnast Kara Eaker, who was set to be an alternate on the U.S. team in Tokyo, also recently tested positive. Eaker had received the vaccine. Athletes will continue to be tested frequently as part of the Olympic COVID-19 safety protocols. In addition to getting a test before they leave for Japan and when they arrive, they’ll get a daily coronavirus test. So some positive tests are, unfortunately, expected.In addition to all the testing, there are many other measures are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the Games this year. That includes restrictions on where athletes can go while in Tokyo, mask requirements, temperature checks, a ban on spectators, and strict quarantine procedures for those who do test positive.Related:

A U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team Member Tested Positive for COVID-19

A U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team Member Tested Positive for COVID-19

U.S. gymnast Kara Eaker tested positive for COVID-19 just days before the Tokyo Olympics are set to begin, the New York Times reports. At first, very few details about the case were been made public—including the name of the gymnast who tested positive. Officials identified the gymnast as an alternate on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team who is between 10 and 19 years old, according to NBC News. The gymnast received a positive COVID-19 test on Sunday, July 18 while training in Narita, an area about 35 miles outside of Tokyo.The Times identified Eaker as the gymnast after receiving confirmation from her coach, Al Fong. So far, Eaker “feels fine,” Fong told the Times. Eaker previously told reporters that she’d received a COVID-19 vaccine, making her case a rare breakthrough infection.Eaker is now quarantining and someone identified as her close contact is “on standby,” officials said, per NBC. Since arriving in Japan on Thursday, both people spent their time practicing in venues and staying in their hotels. They did not spend time in the city, the authorities said.The news of Eaker’s positive test comes just after tennis player Coco Gauff announced she will also have to skip the Games due to a positive test. As part of the new safety protocols for the Tokyo Olympics, athletes get tested for COVID-19 before leaving for Japan, upon their arrival, and every day while at the Games with a rapid test. Any positive test should be confirmed with a subsequent PCR test, according to the protocols. In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 during the Olympics, athletes are not permitted to explore Tokyo outside of predetermined locations. They’re also not permitted to use public transportation. Although athletes are encouraged to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before coming to Tokyo, it is not a requirement.Related:

Why America’s Fastest Woman Will Miss the Entire Tokyo Olympics

Why America’s Fastest Woman Will Miss the Entire Tokyo Olympics

On June 19, 21-year-old Sha’Carri Richardson became an overnight household name after winning the 100-meter dash in a time of 10.86 seconds at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, and earned a spot at the Tokyo Olympics. Her post-win interview—“I’m that girl,” she told NBC—heartfelt embrace with her grandma after her win, and serious Flo-Jo vibes teased that she might become the next track icon.Then on July 1, news broke that the sprinter would not be competing in the 100-meter event in Tokyo. The reason? She tested positive for marijuana, resulting in a 30-day ban from the sport. Her positive test result disqualified her win from the Trials. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced on July 2 that she accepted the one-month suspension for an anti-doping violation for a “substance of abuse.” (According to the USADA, this refers to a substance used outside of sport and not for performance benefits.)The one-month sanction, which began on June 28, will expire just in time for the 100-meter relay event at the Olympic Games. And, unlike with the individual 100-meter event, which sends the top three finishers to the Olympic Games, track officials are able to choose at least two athletes for the relay regardless of their Trials performances. Gold-medal buzz surrounding Richardson intensified last spring when she won the 100 meters with a time of 10.72 seconds—making hers the sixth-fastest time in history. Undoubtedly, she would be an asset to any relay team.So for several days that followed news of Richardson’s ban, media speculated that Richardson would potentially still be able to make it to the Olympics, albeit not in the 100-meter marquee event.But on Tuesday, Richardson’s name was not on the roster for the USA Track and Field (USATF) team selections.“While USATF fully agrees that the merit of the World Anti-Doping Agency rules related to THC should be reevaluated, it would be detrimental to the integrity of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track & Field if USATF amended its policies following competition, only weeks before the Olympic Games,” the organization said in a statement. “All USATF athletes are equally aware of and must adhere to the current anti-doping code, and our credibility as the National Governing Body would be lost if rules were only enforced under certain circumstances. So while our heartfelt understanding lies with Sha’Carri, we must also maintain fairness for all of the athletes who attempted to realize their dreams by securing a place on the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team.”According to a report from The New York Times, Richardson is now one of four elite U.S. runners missing the Games due to a doping violation. (Shelby Houlihan, a medal favorite in the 5,000 meters and American record-holder in that event, tested positive for nandrolone shortly before the Trials, while Christian Coleman and Brianna McNeal are under suspension for missing drug tests.)In an interview with the Today show, Richardson admitted that she used marijuana the week before the race to cope after learning from a reporter that her biological mother had died. (Shortly after news of her suspension broke, USATF released a statement pledging to ensure Richardson was equipped with appropriate mental health resources now and going forward.)The news also sparked debate among running fans, professional athletes, and experts about whether THC belongs on the list of banned substances in the first place. For something to be on the prohibited list, the substance must meet two of the three criteria, according to the USADA: It must pose a health risk to athletes; have the potential to enhance performance; or violate the spirit of sport. A 2021 research review published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness concluded that cannabis “does not act as a sport performance enhancing agent as raised by popular beliefs.” It also set off conversations as to whether Black female athletes are held to unfair standards.According to The New York Times, Richardson’s agent said she did not petition the decision to leave her off the relay team. And even before the relay team was confirmed, Richardson appeared eager to move forward and look toward the future.On July 3, she tweeted, “I’m sorry, I can’t be y’all Olympic Champ this year but I promise I’ll be your World Champ next year.” The 2022 World Athletics Championships are set to take place at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon—the same venue where the Olympic Trials took place this year.Related:

Sydney McLaughlin on Qualifying for Tokyo, Living Up to Expectations, and Learning to Love the 400

Sydney McLaughlin on Qualifying for Tokyo, Living Up to Expectations, and Learning to Love the 400

Sydney McLaughlin is no stranger to the spotlight. Since her headline-catching Olympic debut in Rio at the age of 17, the hurdler has launched an apparel collection with New Balance, was named to the 2021 Time 100 Next, and has landed endorsement deals, like her current role as a Tag Heuer ambassador.And those are just her accolades off the track. In her sport, she’s become the first female athlete to accomplish all three of these feats: break 13 seconds for the 100-meter hurdles, 23 seconds for the 200-meter hurdles, and 53 seconds for the 400-meter hurdles.On Sunday, McLaughlin added one more accomplishment to her resume: a spot on Team USA for the second time. She’ll head to Tokyo next month to compete in the Olympics after winning the 400-meter hurdles Finals and setting a new world record in the process with a time of 51.90.But the weight of all this expectation seems to hardly faze the Los Angeles-based athlete when I speak to her over Zoom in April. McLaughlin is cool, calm, and quietly candid. She tells me, for instance, that the 400-meter hurdles are not her favorite.“I’ve grown to like it. I don’t love it, but I’ve grown to like it,” she says and laughs. “It’s definitely a beast for sure.”The reason she was initially drawn to the event is admittedly a bit mundane in its pragmatism: Her high school coach saw potential and suggested it.“Growing up, I hated the 400 [meter distance]. I definitely thought I was going to be the short sprinter,” McLaughlin says, referring to her penchant for the 100- and 200-meter track races. But in high school, she says, her coach saw an opportunity for her to excel in a difficult event—an event that was only added to the women’s Olympics lineup in 1984. “He was like, ‘That is your race. You have the speed to run the four, and the strength to be able to hurdle while doing it,’” McLaughlin explains. And thus began her meteoric rise in the 400-meter hurdles.“It’s such a unique space because it is such a hard race, a lot of people don’t want to do it,” McLaughlin says. “With the 400 hurdles, there’s a step pattern to it. And once the fatigue kicks in, that step pattern changes, so alternating is crucial. It’s a different type of animal, you know.”Honing her (perhaps undeniably innate) skills so quickly is what earned McLaughlin a spot at Rio in 2017. The only catch? She got sick on the flight over and finished fifth in the semifinals, knocking her out of the final competition. Despite this, McLaughlin remains gracious when talking about the experience.“It was just such an honor to be there,” she says, noting that competing in Rio (where she and fellow newcomer Vashti Cunningham were roommates) taught her plenty. “It definitely prepared me for this year, and what to look forward to. It definitely forced me to grow up very fast in terms of track itself.”It’s easy to forget that, at only 21 years old, she’s now preparing for her second Olympics at an age when many of her peers still have wet ink on their college diplomas. When she competed at Rio, one week after turning 17, she became the youngest U.S. Olympian to do so in track and field since 1972.“I think the part that does tend to weigh on you is once you accomplish something like [qualifying for the Olympics], with that comes all these expectations for the future. These high standards are set because of this one event,” she says. “I think that for a while, that definitely weighed on me.”

Emma Coburn Wins Ninth U.S. Steeplechase Title to Make Her Third Olympic Team

Emma Coburn Wins Ninth U.S. Steeplechase Title to Make Her Third Olympic Team

After a decade dominating the U.S. steeplechase field, Emma Coburn added another accolade to the mix, finishing first at the USATF Olympic Team Trials in Eugene, Oregon, on Thursday night.With Coburn’s win—her ninth national title—she clinched her spot on her third Olympics team. Her time of 9:09.41 in the 3,000-meter event set a new meet record.Courtney Frerichs finished second in a season-best time of 9:11.79, and Val Constien ran a personal best of 9:18.34 to finish third. All three women will join Coburn in Tokyo. It’ll be the second Games for Frerichs, and the first for Constien.It’s been an emotionally trying couple of years for Coburn, whose mom—who was at Eugene to see her daughter’s victory—has been undergoing treatment for stage IV colon cancer.“To share this with her and have her be well, it’s more special than winning today and going to Tokyo,” she told NBC on the broadcast after the race.Steeplechase—an event that sees competitors racing down a track, jumping over low barriers and splashing through shallow pools as they run—is an event that in recent years in the U.S. has been dominated by Coburn, Frerichs, and Olympian Colleen Quigley. In an unfortunate turn, Quigley scratched from the competition several days ago due to injury. With Quigley’s absence, the final spot on the U.S. Olympic team loomed large. It seemed like Leah Falland was going to clinch the last spot, but with 800 meters to go, she fell to the track after catching a toe on one of the barriers. That gave Constien the opportunity to kick for a third-place finish.Constien is a self-funded runner who works a full-time customer service job and paid her own way to the Trials, Women’s Running reported. “I think that being a blue-collar runner is really cool. Anybody with a full-time job can still have Olympic aspirations,” she told the outlet after the race.In Tokyo, Coburn, Frerichs, and Constien will face a formidable opponent in Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech, the current world record holder in the event. At the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Chepkoech won the event, finishing nearly five seconds ahead of Coburn, who finished second in a personal-best time.

Laurel Hubbard Will Be the First Transgender Athlete to Compete in the Olympics

Laurel Hubbard Will Be the First Transgender Athlete to Compete in the Olympics

Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard will make history at the 2021 Summer Olympic Games as the first openly transgender person to compete at the Olympics. Hubbard will be representing New Zealand in the women’s +87 kg weightlifting class at the Tokyo Games, according to a press release from the New Zealand Olympic Team. She joins four other athletes to comprise New Zealand’s largest-ever team of Olympic weightlifters, who will attempt the maximum-weight single barbell lifts at the rescheduled games, opening in July. Hubbard, 43, is making her Olympics debut and international comeback after suffering a broken arm during a competition in 2018—an injury she was told she may not recover from. “When I broke my arm at the Commonwealth Games three years ago, I was advised that my sporting career had likely reached its end,” Hubbard said in a press release. “But your support, your encouragement, and your aroha carried me through the darkness.” (Aroha means love in Maori, the language spoken by the Indigenous people of New Zealand.) “Laurel has shown grit and perseverance in her return from a significant injury and overcoming the challenges in building back confidence on the competition platform,” Olympic weightlifting New Zealand president Richie Patterson said in the release.Hubbard meets the criteria for trans competitors set forth by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), which are based on 2015 guidelines set by the International Olympics Committee (IWF). But weightlifting, like other sports, has been tainted by accusations of unfairness, which are often rooted in transphobia. In fact, this news comes amid a record-setting wave of anti-trans legislation in the U.S. As of June 14, over 110 anti-trans bills have been proposed across 37 states, with at least 13 being passed so far, according to an analysis by The Guardian. Most of these discriminatory bills target kids and young athletes, with multiple states (including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, and Montana) limiting or banning trans kids from playing on the team of their gender, The Guardian reports. And at least 36 proposed bills in 21 states seek to outlaw gender-affirming medical care, a calamity for bodily autonomy, mental health, access to potentially lifesaving health care, and civil rights. While at least one of Hubbard’s rivals has been critical of her inclusion in the competition, Reuters reports, Kereyn Smith, CEO of the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC), says Hubbard will be welcomed to the team. “We acknowledge that gender identity in sport is a highly sensitive and complex issue requiring a balance between human rights and fairness on the field of play,” Smith said in the release. “As the New Zealand Team, we have a strong culture of manaaki and inclusion and respect for all.” (Manaaki means hospitality, care, generosity, and support in Maori.) “We are committed to supporting all eligible New Zealand athletes and ensuring their mental and physical well-being,” Smith added, “along with their high-performance needs, while preparing for and competing at the Olympic Games are met.”Related:

Simone Biles Just Won Her Seventh National Women's All-Around Title

Simone Biles Just Won Her Seventh National Women's All-Around Title

Proving yet again that she’s the GOAT, Simone Biles just won the U.S. national women’s all-around gymnastics title for the seventh time. She is the first woman to do so, which means that this win is a new record.Biles placed first at the U.S. Gymnastics Championship in Fort Worth, Texas, with a score of 119.650, CNN reports. That put her ahead of second-place finisher Sunisa Lee by 4.7 points. Biles’s teammate Jordan Chiles placed third in the competition.Biles already has four Olympic gold medals and is gearing up for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics. “It’s really emotional especially going into my second time doing an Olympic run,” Biles told NBC of her win. “I feel like every single championship stands out for a different reason, but this one stands out specifically because it’s the road to Tokyo.”At this point, 24-year-old Biles has proven to be both an exceptionally skilled and daring gymnast, performing moves that many others wouldn’t even attempt. There are now four exceedingly challenging moves named after her, CBS explains, one on the balance beam, one on the vault, and two on the floor.Biles became the first woman to perform a Yurchenko double pike vault two weeks ago when she debuted the move at the U.S. Classic. Although she’ll “definitely” do it at the Olympic Trials later this month, Biles opted not to perform it this time around. “I didn’t do it at this competition because on Wednesday I jammed my ankles and they didn’t feel too good,” she explained to NBC. “So we just made a decision to not do it and not rush it so that I wouldn’t be too, too nervous.”See a few of the routines that helped earn Biles this record-breaking win below, per NBC Olympics.Related:

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