In the recent docuseries “Angel City” on HBO (which streams from MAX), legendary soccer player and US Women’s National Soccer champion Abby Wambach recalls receiving the prestigious ESPY Icon Award alongside the LA Lakers’ Kobe Bryant and the Indianapolis Colts’ Peyton Manning during a nationally televised ceremony in 2016.
“We all got our awards and the three of us turned to walk offstage, and something else bubbled to the surface. It was this kind of rage. I’d spent my whole career comparing myself only to other women. And here was this opportunity that I was getting the exact same award [as Kobe and Manning], and the three of us were walking into very, very different retirements. Their biggest concern was how they were going to invest their hundreds of millions of dollars that they rightfully earned, and mine was how I was going to find a job to get health insurance, to be able to pay my mortgage that month.”
The lack of gender equity in the sports world is well-known and long-standing. Though Wambach is advocating for more gender equity in professional sports, the battle is more than 50 years old. The US government attempted to correct historic gender inequities in federally-funded programs with Title IX, which was enacted as part of the Education Amendments of 1972; it prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs and activities. Passing that law may have been the easy part.
“Intercollegiate athletics have still not addressed Title IX the way they should,” says Sport + Entertainment co-leader Scott Schiamberg. “They’ve done a lot of good things, but still have a long way to go. Thankfully, we’ve been able to help at institutions that are making this a priority.”
One of those institutions is Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. Perkins Eastman recently completed a series of renovations that dramatically improved the Women’s Softball, Field Hockey, and Track & Field locker rooms.
The “before” pictures of the women’s facilities were downright depressing, but more revealing about the power of these renovations is the student athletes’ reaction when they entered their new locker rooms for the first time. Would that all of our clients reacted with such joy and enthusiasm!