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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

From Serena Williams to the U.S. women’s national soccer team, there is clearly no shortage of women at the top of their athletic game. And yet, for most sports, the pay gap between elite female athletes and their male counterparts continues to widen.

Why it matters: Economics speaks volumes, and the dollars just aren’t there for nearly all female athletes, even those playing professionally. 

  • Professional women’s leagues in softball, ice hockey and soccer have struggled to survive, while even the WNBA has low pay that prompts many female stars to play overseas either instead of, or in addition to, playing professionally in the U.S.
  • Women's sports and leagues are less likely to be aired on big networks and during prime TV spots, decreasing their exposure and their ability to cultivate stronger brand recognition.
  • And some of the trends boosting sports revenue the most, such as esports and legalized gambling, seem only poised to exacerbate the matter by focusing primarily on men's sports.

Yes, but: Women have had some success in collectively bargaining for better pay. It started in the 1970s when Billie Jean King led a revolt among female tennis players seeking equal pay. More recently, in 2017, the U.S. women’s hockey team threatened to skip the World Cup if they weren’t better compensated.

  • And while it hasn’t necessarily helped their wallets, the rise of social media allows female athletes, and smaller sport athletes more broadly, to increase their reach and impact.

Go deeper

Chris Cuomo accuser: On-air "hypocrisy" spurred report

Journalist Chris Cuomo. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

A woman who accused fired CNN journalist Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct said Sunday she decided to come forward after learning of his comments about women who made similar accusations about his brother. He denies her allegations.

Why it matters: Her attorney Debra Katz said in a statement that she heard "the hypocrisy" of his on-air words about his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and was "disgusted by his efforts to try to discredit these women," so "retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN."

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19 — Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Vulnerable Democrats: Less Trump talk

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Vulnerable House Democrats are convinced they need to talk less about the man who helped them get elected: President Trump.

Why it matters: Democrats are privately concerned nationalizing the 2022 mid-terms with emotionally-charged issues — from Critical Race Theory to Donald Trump's role in the Jan. 6 insurrection — will hamstring their ability to sell the local benefits of President Biden's Build Back Better agenda.