As an update to this post about the lack of equal coverage of the women’s national team on the team’s own web site — the site that should be its biggest booster — I just got off the phone with the head of communications for the federation and am … optimistic.
Instead of continuing to rant and complain here or on social media, I decided to write to US Soccer to see what’s up. That prompted a phone call. It was productive.
On the plus side, US Soccer says it’s aware of the disparity in coverage. In short, the site features 22-23-24-25 stories a day on its main page, and pretty much every day, only 3-4-5 of them are about the women’s team.
The head of communications says this will likely be flipped as the women’s world cup approaches this summer, saying that “80 percent” of the stories will be about the women’s side as the tournament approaches.
So … yay.
That’s good news.
I’m feeling optimistic and happy about that.
And yet … I couldn’t quite get rid of the nagging feeling that things may well return to what passes for “normal” after the world cup this summer.
I appreciate the extra coverage in the run-up to a major tournament — I would expect no less for either the men’s or women’s side.
But that’s not quite what I’m after.
I don’t want any side to get ongoing, continuing extra coverage. I’d like in non-world cup or major tournament times for each side to be covered equally.
That’s it. If you’re running 20 stories a day, why not half for each?
Here’s why I think this is so important.
I maintain that if the web site that is supposed to be the team’s biggest booster gives slight coverage to the team, how can we expect national media to do any better? How can we expect FIFA to take the women’s sides seriously if our own federation doesn’t?
Fans, officials, players, kids. They look to this site as the main source of in-depth information about our national teams and day in and day out, one team is treated as somehow lesser.
The real-world ramifications are, of course, the fact that women will have to play a World Cup tournament on a surface that male athletes will never have to. Why take the athletes’ complaints seriously if their own federation treats them as lesser?
So that’s why I get bent out of shape about this.
I appreciate the phone call and the chance to talk about this stuff. I got the sense he listened and was aware he works in a male-dominated environment and how that impacts these decisions. We talked about hidden bias and how that can impact judgment calls on who gets coverage.
Take a look at this photo of the FIFA executive committee. It’s not difficult to see why women athletes around the world get the shaft.
But a very similar photo can be taken of the US Soccer executive committee.
Group think has an impact. Unconscious bias has an impact. The US Soccer site and its unequal coverage of its national teams is just a very visible, public glimpse at what happens behind the scenes. It visibly quantifies what everyone “knows:” Women’s soccer is treated as second class from within the organizations that should be their biggest supporters.
So the phone call.
Bottom line, time will tell. I’m optimistic after this phone call. I’m taking US Soccer at its word that it’ll do better. Listening and being aware feels like a big first step. (Yes, it’s annoying as all get out that we’re at first step stages for equality in 2015).
But at this point, the ball is on their side now.
It’s supposed to rain soon and for days. We appreciate a good book and a warm blanket as much as a trip to the park. But it’s still good to save up those swings, those momentary rushes and weightless apexes — to bottle them up so you can close your eyes on the couch as the rain taps against the window.
I’m always amazed at how easy it is to get lost in a park in San Francisco, how easy it is to escape.
Just about every hilltop has at least a swatch of green or patch of dirt, a place to meander for a moment and perhaps get lost.
And then there are the big parks. Golden Gate. John McClaren. The Presidio. Glen Canyon. Stern Grove.
It’s easy to walk in any direction for a mile or so and suddenly find yourself in the midst of a big city, yes, but also hidden, shrouded somehow in the bucolic crag and leaves and shrubs. I’ve seen coyotes, red tailed hawks swooping up snakes, rabbits, mice. It’s not difficult to stand atop a hill, catch a glimpse of the city below and turn to find a hummingbird hovering within reach. It’s one of the things that make living here a joy.
The other day I listened to a podcast about the entanglements of atoms and human emotions; how in the right conditions, an atom can take on the properties of another even though separated by vast distances; or how some humans can actually feel the physical pain or joy of others — empathy on overdrive, perhaps.
I just got back from a fantastic morning hike with the dog at our favorite San Francisco park and noticed my wife’s facebook feed had photos of her mid-morning run in New York City. We were out and about at about the same time, separated by a country but doing very similar activities unbeknownst to each other, and I’ll swear from this day forward that there were times I felt as if I was inhaling that piercing air that only comes from running in the cold, and it was as if I could feel the crunch of snow underfoot. It was the oddest feeling. I got back home and found her photos and smiled, because I’m sure she’ll say she was thinking of cronuts.