You probably don’t associate your high school volleyball team with the wage gap in America. But high school sports, as well as club sports teams, have more to do with the wage gap than you think.
From Little League to the NBA to even the Olympics, sports create a sense of friendly competition and passion among players. However, not everyone gets the same opportunity to pursue that passion. Playing a sport, especially for a club team, is a privilege that some can’t afford.
According to the Capital Area Soccer League’s mission statement, their goal is, “To provide positive, high quality soccer opportunities at all levels of play for youth and their families and to serve as a valuable community partner.”
However, club sports teams are expensive and elite. Parents hope to refine their children’s skills, and make them the best they can be at their sport. Whether it’s CASL, TUSA, CHAVC or NCLA, clubs charge thousands of dollars to parents yearly. For example, one year in Chapel Hill Area Volleyball Club can range from $708-$3,836, depending on the team you’re on.
Many parents choose to start their kids in club teams at a young age – as early as three or four years old. Meanwhile, for children whose parents can’t afford the elite teams, they have to wait for school sports that allow them to play the sport they love, without additional costs.
Once teenagers enter high school, sports become an even bigger deal. With the right amount of talent, you could get a scholarship to a dream college and even continue to play professionally. The level of ability needed to play professionally can be given to you through club training. Club teams are able cultivate skill and guarantee a superior level of training, which also guarantees a better chance to gain scholarships.
These skills can be earned, but there are also those who don’t have the opportunity to develop the abilities because of factors such as money or geographical access.
No one should be refused the possibility to do what they love. The small differences between those who can and can’t pay have bigger consequences. According to CNN, white families typically earn more per year than minorities. This means that those who are paid more annually are also able to pay for extracurriculars and privileges like club teams. Those who have the club experience are more likely to get scholarships for their achievements and play professionally. This possibly lessens the diversity in the athletic community.
This racial gap stems from something greater than just club versus school teams. It’s possible that this separation is actually a result of the wage gap in America. People of color, women, and other minorities are usually paid less, resulting in little wage gaps all across our country. A man of color typically earns 65-75% of a white man’s hourly wage, according to a recent report by Time Magazine. One small can become the difference between those who can pay for a club sport and those who can’t. Not only is there already discrimination in the athletic world, but there is also under-representation of different races in different sports. In the U.S., the land of opportunities, this seems more than a little unfair.
In order for these club teams to comply with mission statements such as CASL’s, these high quality sports opportunities should be offered to all. Scholarships based on need or talent could be offered to different kids who have a passion for sports. Meanwhile, raising the minimum wage, paid leave, and non-discriminatory wages could target the racial wage gap on a larger scale.