The US Soccer Federation announced today that the men’s and women’s national soccer teams have agreed to identical compensation and commercial revenue sharing for all competitions, including FIFA World Cup competition.
In addition, next Sunday, Seattle Sounders FC will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX, (Education Amendments of 1972 to the Civil Rights Act of 1965) along with members of OL Reign, our professional women’s soccer team.
Both are good news but not easy to find in the wake of mass shootings, war in Ukraine, the pending reversal of Roe v. Wade, and diatribes on mainstream media about “replacement theory”.
The weight of bad news always prompts me to look for signs of progress, signs we are evolving in a positive direction. Equal pay for men and women is one of those signs. Title IX prohibiting discrimination based on sex in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance is another.
Based on these trends, I’m wavering between short term pessimism and long-term optimism. Bipolar but not in the mental health sense – rather in the how can we be optimistic when we’re inundated with news of war, insurrection, gun violence, racial unrest, and political polarization.
I’m old enough to remember the turmoil following Brown v. Board of Education. The racist rhetoric of George Wallace. Federal intervention in Little Rock schools. James Meredith’s enrollment at Ole Miss. The assassinations of JFK, MLK, and RFK–but followed by the Civil Rights Act(s) of 1964 and 1965.
During a period of relative peace, I served seven years in the military. I thought it was my duty to defend our freedom. We thought that way then. But those were the same years Emmett Till was murdered for whistling at a white woman and four black girls were killed in a church bombing. It became clear to me that a large portion of the country was not as free as I was.
I was naïve and privileged. I’m still privileged. I don’t live in a neighborhood where a racist killer might target my supermarket, Walmart, or church, but I’m no longer naïve. I see and hear things I never thought possible in America.
As a child, I had a BB gun and was taught gun safety. Today more than 300 million guns are in the hands of Americans – beyond the point of no return. The NRA used to teach gun safety. Now they protect manufacturers of military-style semi-automatic weapons from liability.
I was equally naïve when Richard Nixon was elected president. I didn’t trust him, but never thought he would stoop to burglary to hang on to power. I was wrong. But, 34 years after he resigned in disgrace, America elected Barack Obama its first black president. I want to believe in cycles. I’d prefer they be good, but I’m willing to accept some bad with the good if there is progress.
We just endured another bad cycle. Things are more stable now that the former guy is no longer center stage. I believe the current president is doing his best, but he doesn’t inspire. We need leadership, vision, and inspiration to move forward.
Things are better than earlier in my lifetime. I try to keep that in mind. History is cyclical. Civilizations come and go. They decline and fall. In the meantime, I will try to wean myself off fossil fuels, buy organic fair-trade coffee, use public transportation, support UNICEF and World Central Kitchen, trust public education, stand up for a woman’s right to choose, and cheer the Seattle Sounders.
“In spite of everything, I believe that people are good at heart.” Anne Frank