Flame Bearers: Keeping the Fire Burning

Flame Bearers: Keeping the Fire Burning spotlights women Olympians and Paralympians who sought to compete in the Tokyo Summer or Beijing Winter Olympi…
Aug 8th, 2020 | 34:01

Becky Sauerbrunn (USA): Soccer & Equal Pay

Becky is on the US Women's National Soccer Team and has been the rock of the back line for the last 8 years. She's an Olympic gold medalist and has played in both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, won the 2015 and 2019 World Cup championships, and recently became the US Women's National Team Players Association President. Alongside teammates Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and former teammate, Hope Solo, she brought forth a pay discrimination lawsuit against US Soccer. In this episode, Becky and her boyfriend, Zola discuss her experience as an elite female athlete and their take on Judge Klausner's recent ruling on the pay equity and conditions lawsuit. Experts interviewed include Dr. David Berri, Dr. Jeni Klugman, and Dr. Laurie Essig. Audio clip from Just Not Sports, Ep. 77: USWNT's Becky Sauerbrunn Loves Sci-Fi & Fantasy (3:57-4:11)
Before 1900, no women were allowed to compete in the Olympic Games. When they were finally welcomed 120 years ago, their participation was limited to five sports deemed appropriate. In London in 2012, women were finally represented across all sports, and the highly anticipated Tokyo games stand to have the highest female representation ever. In light of all the progress that has been made, it may be tempting to think that there is no gender discrimination here at home. However, differences in pay and treatment, represented by the story of today’s guest - Becky Sauerbrunn - demonstrate that there is still a long way to go. Professional soccer player Becky is a defender on the US Women’s National Team, as well as an Olympic gold medalist who competed in both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. She co-captained the 2016 team, and is training to compete again in Tokyo. In 2015 and 2019, she and her teammates won the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and Becky recently became the USWNT Players’ Association President. She is the rock of the US defensive line, and a humble woman who leads by taking action. Becky’s leadership is not restricted to the field; rather, she is an integral part of the push for equitable pay and working conditions for the USWNT. She and boyfriend Zola together share about this work, which centers on a complaint (and ensuing lawsuit) against US Soccer for violation of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Becky explains the factors at play, touching on the CBA, the EEOC, Judge Klausner, and more, while also emphasizing her commitment to keep fighting even in the face of setbacks and overt sexism. Becky’s comments are also complemented by the input of several expert contributors. Dr. David Berri explains the dynamics of incentives, revenue, and fan development. Dr. Jeni Klugman details the role of the media in perpetuating a lack of gender equity. And finally, Dr. Laurie Essig shares about the history behind gender disparity in sports. At the end of the conversation, listeners are left with much to think about regarding complex and interconnected social ills, a high view of the importance of sport, ideas about how to actively work for progress, and inspiration from Becky to lean into compassion. Links: Learn more about Becky Sauerbrunn and view her Team USA and Portland Timbers profiles. Connect with Becky on Twitter and Instagram. Access updated news on the USWNT’s lawsuit.