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Women athletes deserve more respect. Why don't they get it?

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United States' Megan Rapinoe
United States' Megan Rapinoe celebrates after scoring her side's second goal during the Women's World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between France and the United States at the Parc des Princes, in Paris, Friday, June 28, 2019.
Francisco Seco | AP

When the U.S. Women's National soccer team beat Thailand in its opening match of the Women's World Cup, it was the largest margin of victory ever recorded at a World Cup — men's or women's.

While many U.S. fans applauded the prowess of the defending champs, some wondered if the United States had gone overboard against a lesser opponent. Numerous analysts came to the team's defense, arguing that no one would question a men's team for accomplishing the same feat.

But allegations of unfairness do not stop there.

In March, 28 players from the women's national team filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles arguing that U.S. Soccer practices gender-based pay discrimination in its national team programs.

Currently, the players on the women's national team can earn a maximum of $99,000, or $4,950 per game. For comparison, the men's national team earns an average of $263,230 or $13,166 per game.

Since the opening match against Thailand, the women's national team has advanced deep into World Cup's knockout stage. Its jersey sales have surpassed those of the men's national team. 

The women's team is  not alone in its fight for respect and gender equity. Female athletes worldwide have been voicing similar concerns. In the WNBA, for example, an average player makes only $35,000 per year. Top-tier high school recruits for the NBA G-league can earn upwards of $125,000 annually.

Even more, female athletes also face disrespect of their athletic abilities. Devereaux Peters, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury, has said that she constantly hears men say, "Hey, a high school team could beat WNBA players."

Why don't women athletes get more respect?

MPR News host Kerri Miller spoke with Lindsay Gibbs, sports reporter at Think Progress and co-host of the Burn it Down podcast; and with Dr. Angel Brutus, director of counseling and sport psychology at Mississippi University.

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.