The United States women’s national soccer team (USWNT) made history last week by winning their fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup title. This was the team’s record-breaking second straight and most of any women’s national team. Their performance was one for the ages, tearing through their competition in dominating fashion and earning a Best Team Award at the ESPYS.
Now, even as a championship parade rolls through New York City and stars from the USWNT like Meagan Repino and Alex Morgan go on the talk show circuit, all anyone can talk about is the dollars and cents of it all.
USWNT Demand Equal Pay for Equal Play
The wage gap between the men’s and women’s national team players in the US has long been a point of debate.
Back in March, on International Women’s Day, no less, 28 members of the USWNT, including Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe, filed a class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
“I think a lot of people look to us and our team and the collective voice that we have and what we’ve stood for, for inspiration and for power, and as an ally in this broader fight for equality and human rights, really,” said winger Megan Rapinoe at the time.
Before this year’s competition kicked off, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer made a point of reminding people about that pay gap.
“The women make just as much of a sacrifice, put in just as much mental and physical energy, absorb just as much risk of injury as the men who play for our national team,” said Schumer. “Yet, when you break it down, a women’s national soccer team player earns a base salary of $3,600 per game while a men’s player earns $5,000.”
Compounding the issue, USWNT players also earn much smaller World Cup bonuses than the males, a measly $15,000 compared to $55,000. The prime example is with the U.S. Soccer Federation itself, awarding the men’s team a $5.4 million bonus for losing in the Round of 16 while the women received only $1.7 million for winning the whole tournament in 2015.
So, in summary, the team that’s actually winning tournaments is making far less than the team losing them.
“Discrimination staring us all in the face,” Schumer said. “These women, who inspire our country with their poise, tenacity, skill and excellence every time they take the field deserve to be fairly compensated.”
If you take the “equal pay” chants from the World Cup crowd following the USWNT’s win and during a recent U.S. Soccer press conference, it’s clear where public opinion falls. U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro had to pause during his address to the crowd during the champion ceremony in New York City on Wednesday due to the chanting.
US Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro walks up to the podium and the crowd in NYC chants “Equal pay! Equal pay!” at him. In 2015, it felt like the #USWNT‘s win was about winning the World Cup itself. This time, it feels entirely like a platform to a much bigger conversation.
— Caitlin Murray (@caitlinmurr) July 10, 2019
Now the Politicians Want to Play
Now, even more politicians have thrown their hats into the ring to push the issue.
More than 50 members of Congress wrote to U.S. Soccer looking to address the pay disparity, while Sen. Joe Manchin introduced a bill this week that would withhold federal funding from the upcoming 2026 Men’s World Cup set to be co-hosted in the U.S. unless some action was taken to fix it.
“The clear unequitable pay between the U.S. men and women’s soccer teams is unacceptable and I’m glad the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team latest victory is causing public outcry,” Manchin said in a statement. “I’m encouraging everyone to call their Senator and Representatives to help us get this bill passed and finally pay the equitable pay they deserve.”
If the bill passes and the federal government decides not to play ball with FIFA, it could be a major stumbling block for the upcoming tournament. The State Department, for example, needs to provide visa waivers and such for visiting FIFA officials and host cities need the money to build up infrastructure and book security for matches.
Like it or not, this conversation is nowhere near over. While the U.S. Women’s team won’t be booking their tickets to the White House anytime soon, they’ve certainly caught the attention of lawmakers in one way or another these past few weeks.
PS, Megan Rapinoe Loves CBD!
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Megan Rapinoe shared her must-haves for traveling. Along with her work out gear, CBD is right up there to help make traveling easier.
“I usually have CBD drops of some kind so I can just relax with all the travel. I use it as an overall health benefit. I usually take it at night or I definitely will take it if I’m going on a long flight. We have to be kind of careful with how much THC is in those. Sometimes, at a competition they don’t really test for it, but then they will. So you have to be careful. Select is a good one; they have just a pure CBD line.”
CBD Sponsorship of Professional Motocross Takes Another Step Forward
CBD sponsorship is making moves in professional motocross and supercross, once again, after progress stalled in early 2019.
For those living under a rock, CBD aka cannabidiol is one of over a hundred cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. But, unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD doesn’t offer a high. The latter’s strengths are helping to treat serious conditions such as epilepsy, to controlling anxiety, helping manage pain, aid in muscle recovery, better sleep and overall wellness.
Certain attributes — such as recovery, sleep and overall wellness — has seen professional athletes add CBD to training programs. That has seen the rise of cannabis advocates in a wide scope of sports, whether stick-and-ball (like hockey, football and baseball), through to action sports that sit out of the mainstream (like MMA and motocross).
It has also seen an influx of cannabis advocates, like MMA’s Bas Rutten and motocross stars Carey Hart and Chad Reed, all using that ‘legend’ status in each sport to help educate fans and followers about the benefits of CBD.
While the likes of Hart and Reed continue to share their belief in CBD on social media, it only goes so far in motocross, with its use and marketing leading to controversy in the pro motocross racing scene.
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There was no problem with racers being sponsored and supported by CBD companies until February 2019, which was when supported athletes were censored during broadcasts of Monster Energy AMA Supercross. The ban prohibited the logos of CBD companies, enforced by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) after it was brought to the attention of Feld Motor Sports, the promoter of the series.
The problem was not the use of CBD by the athletes, but the two logos of CBD brands — Ignite and cbdMD — visible on bikes and riders during broadcasts on NBC. The first to be censored was Dean Wilson, who was told to cover the Ignite logos, followed by Chad Reed being forced to censor the cbdMD logos on his helmet.
There were inconsistencies with the ban and censorship, depending on where the racing took place (such as Texas, where CBD is still not legal). To add more confusion, both the AMA and The Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) allows racers to use CBD since it is not on the prohibited list of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
But There Has Been Progress
The AMA posted a bulletin that outlines how CBD will be handled in 2020 and beyond.
Again, these steps are related to the displaying of logos at the races, whether in the pits, on the bike or the gear (especially if seen during television broadcasts).
Due to recent changes in state laws, limited hemp-based cannabidiol “CBD” product sponsorships at certain onsite event locations during the upcoming 2020 Supercross season will be allowed subject to the following requirements and restrictions contained herein.
But there are requirements to the eligibility, with the “CBD products must be derived from hemp and contain less than .3% THC,” and “any logos or signage that include or relate to cannabis are prohibited.” Of course, “CBD product sponsorships are void in whole or in part wherever prohibited by law.”
That means signage or promotional displays for CBD related products are to be permitted in the pit areas of the 2020 series. But the distribution or sale of any CBD related products or samples would be strictly prohibited.
The broadcast restrictions are still uncertain. For now, the AMA states that “no rider, team or sponsor should assume that any promotional displays of CBD product on the track that may be captured by the broadcast will be allowed until further notice.” That means riders will run the risk of the being censored or removed from competition.
These policies will remain in effect until further notice. But the AMA has stated the policies are “not intended to be all-inclusive and may be amended, appended, or rescinded in whole or in part at any time for any reason without advance notice.”
The real question is should professional athletes making more from sponsorship than purse money have further censorship due to prior restraint?
Former Patriots Star Rob Gronkowski Enters CBD Game
If there’s one thing football fans know for sure, it’s that former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is always up to something.
Whether it’s partying on a boat, dominating on the gridiron or appearing in another commercial, the guy sure knows how to keep busy.
Now, after the five-time Pro Bowler and three-time Super Bowl winner retired at the age of 30 last offseason, he’s back in the public spotlight. This time, he’s getting into the CBD business.
Gronk signed on with Rhode Island-based Abacus Health Products, giving him a stake in the company and making him the face of a line of products set to be revealed in early 2020.
While there’s surely a business component to this partnership, Gronk insists he decided to get involved with CBD products after personally seeing the impact they can have on pain, telling the press he was “blown away with how well it worked. I am pain-free, and that is a big deal.”
“[The injuries] took an absolute beating on my mind and my soul. I was hurt both mentally and physically, day in and day out,” Gronk said. “I decided to walk away from the game for one reason: I had to recover.”
Recovery was a prime concern for Gronk after his retirement. After dealing with near-constant injuries nine surgeries during his illustrious pro football career, Gronk talked about the need to rest, recharge and help his body recover from the beating it takes during games.
“I’m advocating for CBD to be acceptable for all players for recovery,” Gronk said during a press conference. “You can just call me Mr. Recovery. You know you like that name. Mr. Recovery, baby.”
Gronk recalled a stretch in time after a Super Bowl victory where despite playing a great game and winning a championship, it paid a tremendous toll on his body.
“I was in tears in my bed after a Super Bowl victory. It didn’t make much sense to me,” said Gronkowski. “I couldn’t sleep for more than 20 minutes a night, after a Super Bowl win. And I was like damn, this sucks. It didn’t feel right.”
While Gronk didn’t completely close the door on his NFL career, teasing fans with the possibility of a comeback depending on how his body feels, he made it clear he wouldn’t come back unless the NFL changed its tune on CBD for athlete recovery.
“To come back, they’re going to have to legalize CBD in the NFL,” he said. “No matter what I say, people are still going to say I’m coming back —so, I’m coming back, but I’m not.”
While the NFL has yet to lift its rigid ban on CBD products, as the UFC has, the science is on the athlete’s side. CBD has a proven impact on pain management and athlete recovery that simply can’t be denied at this point. With the recent trend of elite NFL athletes like Gronk and former Colts quarterback Andrew Luck hanging up their cleats early due to countless injuries and never-ending rehab, the NFL might want to consider natural pain-management solutions like CBD.
Mike Tyson Is Newest Fan-Controlled Football League Owner
When it comes to rebrands, there are few more complete and monumental than that of Mike Tyson.
It’s hard to believe that the former heavyweight champ of a brutally violent sport like boxing, sporting facial tattoos before it was a common hip-hop trend and most known for biting off his opponent’s ears and knocking people out in 12 seconds is now a touring entertainer, pigeon trainer and best part of hit comedy film “The Hangover.”
It’s fair to say that Tyson’s change from one of the most feared, baddest men on the planet to entrepreneur and entertainer has been an on-going story of feel-good redemption.
More recently, Tyson made the leap into the cannabis space with his ultra-extravagant, 40-acres cannabis resort Tyson Ranch set to be ready in 2020 and has a hit on his hands with his HotBoxin podcast where he talks with superstars like Vic Mensa, Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg while smoking up. Plus his soon to be released line of cannabis strains and CBD wellness products.
Now the former heavyweight champ has announced his partnership with the Fan-Controlled Football League (FCFL) as an owner.
The FCFL is the first-ever real-world sports league where the fans are fully in charge, calling in plays via an app and relayed directly into the quarterback’s helmet. Fans will be able to pick every aspect of the team from their name, to their logos, coaches and even players.
On top of that, the league is partnered with Twitch to stream exclusively, letting fans watch live and get in on the action from any Twitch-compatible device.
Tyson joins the likes of both current and former pro athletes like Marshawn Lynch, Richard Sherman and Chad Ochocinco as a team’s owner along with entertainers like singer and songwriter Prince Royce, radio personality Bobby Bones and YouTube gaming comedy group Kinda Funny.
When asked why he wanted to get involved with the FCFL, Tyson was clear about his intentions to make his team a force for years to come.
“I’m pleased to come on board as the owner of the newest Fan-Controlled Football League team. I’m excited to work with the fans to create the Baddest League on the Planet. My team is looking forward to demolishing our ‘competition.’” Tyson said.
Tyson elaborated further on his goals for the team in a brief video message to his fans, saying he’s looking for players who are elite both on the intellectual and physical perspective.
After all, when it comes to winning championships and dominating a sport, there are few finer role models than Iron Mike himself.
The FCFL is thrilled to have Tyson on board in the owner’s box.
“We are reinventing the sport of football for the digital age and a cultural phenomenon like Iron Mike could not be a better fit for this league,” said co-founder and Chief Gaming Officer Patrick Dees. “We are impossibly excited for him to bring his unparalleled energy, legendary smack talk, and unrivaled will to win to the FCFL. The man is a total badass and there is zero doubt in my mind that Team Tyson is going to be a force to be reckoned with in our first season. And I for one, CAN NOT WAIT to watch him stream his games on Twitch.”
With a literal heavyweight like Tyson on board, the Fan-Controlled Football League is bound to be as exciting as one of Iron Mike’s legendary bouts.
Let’s hope the games last longer than those fights, however.
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