Alex Morgan’s fight for equal treatment in American football

Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

It’s hard to know where to start even with soccer star Alex Morgan.

First, she helped transform the U.S. Women‘s National Soccer Team from within in more ways than just winning an Olympic gold medal and two World Cup titles. In May 2022, Morgan and a few of his teammates won a $24 million settlement in their six-year sex discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. This ensures equal pay for men and women in friendlies and tournaments, as well as a host of other measures. Morgan also recently posed for the Sports Illustrated Number “Swimsuit” for the third time. On top of all that, she’s a mom to a 2-year-old, runs a production company that promotes female-led stories alongside three other athletes, and author of a series of books for college students.

I met Morgan at a football clinic she was running with a group of journalists (myself included!) for an activation with Orgain, a clean nutrition brand she partners with. After speaking with all types of media present, she then had a meeting with a youth football team, which involved questions and photos with many starry-eyed children. This all happened before 10 a.m. after she played a game with her new team, the San Diego Wave – in other words, the woman could be superhuman.

Start to finish: What was the most shocking thing about women’s football’s legal battle for equal rights?

I didn’t really understand how it wasn’t as simple as people think. Filing the lawsuit three months before the World Cup – yes, it was nerve-wracking. I don’t think anyone wakes up and thinks, Allow me to file a complaint against my boss; i hope they are ok with this and pay me anyway and let me go to the world cup. I was surprised by the behind the scenes work and then depositions, mediations, negotiations, late night and early morning calls with our legal teams, texts and calls to get the position and figure of the other part. where we can come to some common ground. It was so much more complicated than I initially expected.

How did you celebrate the victory?

A bottle of wine.

There were small victories along the way – like the win where we finally got recognition that US Soccer was going to pay us equally and treat us equally, but then there was the collective bargaining agreement which was signed a month or two later. To have that indeed go forward forever – to have true equality with the guys on the national team – was groundbreaking.

I saw you tweeted to CBS for airing bull riding on women’s soccer. Second, what would be the most random event he could have broadcast?

We actually see a lot of bowling and darts – and spikeball! Like, college spikeball championships! So it all rivals women’s football on TV all the time.

You said one of the reasons you chose the San Diego Wave was that you were intrigued by the team’s ambition. What does ambition mean to you in everyday life?

For me, ambition means moving the needle. It means bringing the best of yourself every day. It means setting big goals and it means going all out. If you focus on something, you are there to accomplish it.

Photo: Courtesy of Jim Donnolly and Orgain

And that means believing in yourself when others don’t. I feel like that’s what this club did. They were ambitious in wanting to bring a women’s team to San Diego within six months of the start of the season, which is crazy to bring not just players to fill a team but a brand, a logo, employees who could actually lead the organization, a city that could support the team. So I think in general it was very ambitious.

Also, San Diego hasn’t had a women’s sports team in over ten years, and I wanted to be proud that the Wave was San Diego’s team.

What do you hope the history books say about you?

That I was not only a great footballer, but I did great things for people.

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