Briana Scurry, ASU, outlines how far women’s soccer has come and what changes are still needed
TEMPE – “More is possible” were the words printed on Victoria Jackson’s shirt as she greeted guests at the recent Title IX and Global Football event. On the back of the shirt were the 37 words of the Title IX law.
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of gender, be excluded from participation in, denied benefits, or discriminated against in any educational program or activity receiving ‘federal financial assistance.’
Dressed for the occasion, Jackson hosted ASU’s Global Sport Institute and hosted a panel to celebrate Title IX and women’s soccer. The ‘More is Possible’ event shone a light on the fight for equality in women’s football and the issues that are still present in women’s sport more than five decades after those words were enacted.
“This year marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX, which is the US law that has had a global impact and influence, inspiring women to demand equal treatment on the sports field and equal pay as well,” said Jackson, a sports historian and professor at ASU. “And that legacy really starts with this law in the context of women’s football.”
Two-time Olympian and World Cup champion Briana Scurry, who attended the event, helped start the fight for equality in women’s football. Scurry and the United States Women’s National Team in the 1990s demanded equal rights and equal pay by boycotting the first Olympics that featured women’s soccer as part of the competition in 1996. team eventually competed and won women’s football’s first gold medal, but only after the Federation offered better contracts.
Scurry’s documentary based on his life, The Only, depicts all of the national team’s behind-the-scenes struggles. It reveals all the different layers of the team beyond the pitch.
“When you come to see the women’s national team player, you come to see any top sports team play, you see that image of that game,” Scurry said. “But I think my documentary shows you that there’s so much more going on in how a team or an individual peaks.”
The women’s team started the fight for equal pay and 26 years later it was finally won. Scurry and her team have given the current faces of the Women’s National Team the courage to keep fighting. In September, US national teams officially signed a new collective agreement that provided equal pay for men and women.
The issues Scurry faced weren’t limited to her gender. Scurry also faced inequalities due to race and sexual orientation.
“Racism is basically woven into this country in many ways,” said Scurry, who is black and openly gay. “And that part of my journey was hampered by the color of my skin. And I didn’t want to believe that, and I didn’t want to think that was happening. But I realized it, it took me a while (to realize) that the fact that I was gay was also woven into this somehow. And I didn’t want to believe it either.
While the event, Title IX and Global Football celebrated how much women’s sport has changed, it also underscored the need for even more improvement. With the recent publication of reports of abuse, sexual misconduct and verbal abuse from the National Women’s Soccer League, the fight for change continues for women’s football.
“I think the league needs to have a complete overhaul, I think what the report shows is that there needs to be changes at a systemic level,” Scurry said. “All the teams at the moment just have to keep coming together, the players have to do that and the fact that they now have a players’ association, a collective agreement, they have a new policy in place. I think that’s definitely ok. be better in this situation with the report.
“If it doesn’t destroy the league, it will definitely make it stronger. And sometimes you need a reckoning. And that’s exactly what the report was.
Despite the challenges that still await women’s soccer in the United States, Title IX continues to provide opportunities for girls and women that other countries lack.
A structured path to playing soccer was not established in Mexico as ASU footballer Alexia Delgado and former Mexico national player Paola Lopez Yrigoyen were growing up, and both players had no women to look up to. make a change.
“You didn’t really aspire to Mexico very much,” Delgado said. “The biggest thing you could aspire to was playing for the national team. And other than that, for me, it was like coming to the United States and playing college and going to school. It was so kind of like a dream for me to come here because we didn’t have a league and we had nothing to look forward to.
Lopez Yrigoyen added: “When I was a child, there was no guarantee, an equal distribution of resources for women to play football. Not in college, not in schools and not in professional.
Title IX paved the way for Scurry to pave the way for the next generation of the Women’s National Team. More is still possible for women’s football and although Title IX has begun the fight, it is far from over.
“Without Title IX, I’m not here with you at all,” Scurry said. “When I was younger, in high school and college, universities used football as a qualifier for the fairness part. I became one of the top five Nike girls because I was there at the right time. Title IX was the best ally I could ever have.