When women step on the football field to play, it’s for the love of the game, not money. As a football-loving nation, Americans know how tough men in the NFL have to be to take the tackles they absorb every Sunday–but they get paid millions to do it. Women on the other hand, not only don’t get paid as much, they usually have to pay into the league they play for.
Bustle reported the US-based Women’s Football Alliance requires their women players to pay a team fee between $250 and $800 to play, in addition to having to cover travel and equipment costs.
Not only is the sports industry rife with pay inequity, the US women football players are often not given their just due as the incredible athletes they are by onlookers.
“When I tell gentlemen I’m a football player, the first thing out of their mouths is ‘Oh, you mean soccer’,” said Adrienne Smith, a Boston Renegades wide receiver who made football history in 2010, scoring the first ever touchdown in women’s international tackle football. “And sometimes they’ll even try to correct me and say I’m in the lingerie league.”
Smith shared it can be frustrating dealing with the misogynistic misconceptions from men as a woman in football. “I’m not here in some turf field, running around in bra and panties for the amusement of men,” she said. “I play full-fledged full pads, full tackle football, and I’m actually really good at it.”
Joann Overstreet, a player for the U.S. National Flag Football Team can attest to this as well.
The charismatic social media darling has made a career of being better than most of the boys on the field, but it took her moving out of the country to receive the respect she deserved.
“As soon as I got to Mexico, the fans were screaming ‘Lady OBJ,’” Overstreet said, referring to the Odell Beckham Jr. inspired nickname her supporters gave her because of a similar hairstyle to the LA Rams NFL player, and her quick style of play on the field. “When I stepped off the field, I kid you not–it was the most insane experience of my life. There was a line of people waiting to meet me to sign autographs, pictures. I never received that much love at home.”
Now, the team at Got Milk is aiming to change that. They’ve partnered with Smith and Overstreet for Team Milk , a campaign highlighting pro-athletes from all over the country that are dedicated to inspiring the next generation players.
“I’m so proud to be a part of Team Milk because they’re showing Black women and girls out there that athletes like them exist, and we’re really doing what we love in a big way,” said Overstreet.