MILLIONS OF FOLLOWERS FOR MILLIONS OF DOLLARS
It is common knowledge that there is a gender wage gap within athletics. As reported by the United States Census, “In 2020, women earned 83 cents to every dollar earned by men.” Specifically in athletics, “the average female athlete makes $15,232 in comparison to male athletes who make $38,008 on average, a 149.5% increase.”
A decision made in 2021 by The United States Supreme Court permits college athletes to generate money off of their fame. Both male and female athletes can make money by allowing businesses to use their names, image, and likeness to sell a product. These agreements are known as “NIL” deals. Many male athletes get paid more for their sport in addition to money off their jerseys or public appearances. This law passed has been a game-changer for female athletes. Women are now able to hold their own earnings by leveraging their popularity on social media in order to be even with their male counterparts.
According to a recent report done by the New York Times, there are multiple female college athletes who have already become millionaires within the past year after the law was passed. Though, the way they are attaining this fame troubles some female athletes who have continually fought for equal rights in women’s sports. Many are now hesitant about the way some athletes are using their bodies and look to create a profit for themselves, instead of their actual athletic profession. St. Ambrose Women’s Basketball Coach Krista Van Hauen expresses, “I like the fact that female athletes can now make money as their male counterparts. However, if they are doing so I hope they are professional about it and not being taken advantage of. They should be paid like the male athletes and if males are respected then females should be respected.”
Countless athletes referred to in the New York Times are known on the St. Ambrose campus. When asking approximately 20 SAU students about these athletes, responses ranged from “Of course, I know who Livvy Dunne and the twins are, I follow them on everything,” to countless comments about how attractive their physical appearance is. Famous women such as LSU gymnasts Livvy Dunne or Haley and Hanna Cavinder, twin basketball players at the University of Miami hold millions of followers on Tik Tok and Instagram. They post daily content of famous dances or lip-syncing to well-known music, earning themselves millions.
Though it may seem inappropriate for people to follow these creators for their appearance, this proves the notion that sexiness sells in traditional ways of what makes women appealing to men.
The creators are therefore successful based on that notion. “I agree that sexiness sells. I would
say that many female athletes feel the pressure to post on social media and show off their physique, especially to gain followers and therefore make a profit,” says St. Ambrose women’s soccer player Bella Grasafi. SAU women’s basketball player Rylee Pfoutz adds, “I mean look when you scroll through a famous female athlete’s social media, what do you see? You see females posing and showing off their bodies to gain their fame.”
A majority of female athletes interviewed at St. Ambrose agreed that if they were at a big school
and had the opportunity to make the most profit based on social media, where they would participate in showing themselves off in a physical way. The few that disagreed spoke but remained anonymous. “I do not want to show off my body in order to have money. Women fight to be respected every day and it is harder to thin the wage gap if this is the way we are doing it.” As stated in an interview conducted by the New York Times with Livvy Dunne, “to Dunne, and many other athletes of her generation, being candid and flirty and showing off their bodies in ways that emphasize traditional notions of female beauty on social media are all empowering.” It is still up for debate whether or not a female athlete showing off her body to make money is empowering or a setback for the women who have fought to be respected for so long.
Kaitlyn Brunson is a staff writer for The Buzz.