A high school girls soccer team in Burlington, Vermont took a stand for “equal pay” following a goal in its game Friday night: Players removed their jerseys to reveal shirts emblazoned with “#EQUALPAY.”
But … the Burlington High School squad wasn’t quite ready for what happened next: They got yellow carded.
The team’s show of support for the US Women’s Soccer Team’s efforts to get the same pay as its male counterparts resulted in an official punishment for (mild) misconduct. State rules mandate a yellow card if a player removes his or her jersey during a game, according to the Burlington Free Press.
Ultimately, the girls didn’t care too much. Fans in attendance began chanting “Equal pay!” and the team had sold around 500 of the shirts as a fundraiser. Not to mention, the Burlington boys team recently had offered support by donning the shirts at one of their games. (They didn’t get yellow carded, however, as they merely lifted up their jerseys to reveal the message.)
The Burlington girls even got some backing from a powerful source:
Originally the teens’ plan was to make #equalpay shirts for their team’s dress-up day. It wasn’t long before athletes on other BHS teams wanted in and word spread beyond the school’s halls.
“Then we partnered with some organizations that focus on women’s economic security in Vermont and we designed these jerseys and it kind of spread like wildfire,” Lydia Sheeser said.
The initiative quickly blossomed from a soccer-only idea to a far-reaching movement — Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and his wife, Marcelle, were among those who bought one of the Nike shirts. Each costs $25, with men invited to pay 16% more ($4.80) as a symbol of the average disparity between what men and women make in Vermont.
The Free Press story states “By bringing attention to the existing wage gap between men and women, the players want to spur change that allows the youth league to better represent the city it serves.” According to NBC News, a group called Change the Story, “an advocacy group that seeks to strengthen women’s economic security,” assisted the team in creating the #EQUALPAY shirts.
In reality, of course, the vast majority of pay “gaps” aren’t the result of gender discrimination, and in soccer’s case the income differential is due to negotiated contracts and revenue sharing. Oh, and men just happen to be superior athletes.
Perhaps the Burlington girls’ next game can be an exhibition match against the boys team — that would be a good lesson in economics … and biology.
IMAGE: Luis Molinero / Shutterstock.com