2022 Recap: Women and E-Sports Representation

Cover art of NBA 2k23 featuring female athletes Sue Bird (left) and Diana Taurasi (right) (Photo credit via NBA 2k Two-Take Interactive)

Aliyah Williams

Managing Editor

History was made on Aug. 18, 1985, when the U.S. women’s soccer team played their first professional match. 

Now, 37 years later, a woman appeared on the cover of the sport’s most popular video game for the first time. 

Overall acceptance of women’s sports is rising, and this year’s editions of popular sports video games are making history by featuring female athletes on the front covers. 

Reformations in the WNBA and the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team are leading the way for female representation in sports and sports media. 

“I think it’s so cool to see girls on the cover,” said Mya Williams. “When you talk about basketball, people typically will think of men, so it’s an exciting change.” 

The International Federation of Football Association (FIFA), released the 30th edition of their popular soccer video game, FIFA23, on Sept. 27. 

The game’s cover features Sam Kerr, a prominent female athlete, next to men’s soccer player Kylian Mbappé. 

It is the first time in the game’s 29-year history that a woman is featured on the cover. 

“Women’s football is here,” said game producer Electronic Arts’ website.“Sold out stadiums. Passionate fans. Global icons. The world is watching, waiting, excited to see what’s next…because women’s football is not just ‘Up and Coming.’” 

Similarly, women’s basketball was featured in the new edition of the sport’s most popular video game, NBA 2k23. 

WNBA stars Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi appear on the cover, a woman’s second appearance in 23 years. 

It was not until last year that athlete Candace Parker made history as the first female player on the cover of the game. 

Released on Sept. 8, NBA 2k23 allows players to compete with female athletes by making a character, playing in games and building a virtual career. 

Past editions of the game did not include such a vvariety of options. 

These significant gains in media representation are based on recent pay and equality victories in women’s sports, with the women’s soccer team leading the way. 

The team finalized an equal pay lawsuit in February, winning $24 million in a settlement that is to be distributed directly to players, according to the U.S. Soccer Federation. 

Benefits of winning the World Cup will also be combined and distributed equally, as a part of the agreement. 

Before, if the men’s national team won the World Cup, they would be awarded $350 million, with the women only earning around $15 million, according to statistics published by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. 

Following suit, the WNBA is also fighting for equal viewership and representation. 

According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, the average salary for a WNBA player in 2009 was $99,500, with their male counterparts earning an average of $5.85 million a season. 

Today, these numbers have changed, due to a 2020 agreement that allowed a “53 percent increase in total cash compensation,” according to a WNBA press release. 

Other significant motherhood benefits were included in the agreement, such as paid maternity leave and an annual childcare salary. 

According to ESPN, WNBA players now earn an average salary of $130,000, while NBA players gain an average of around $8.5 million a season. 

Statistics are improving despite the differences, and the gain of recognition in women’s sports has led to video game representation. 

“Having women express themselves in these games can just give them a new look,” said Williams. 

More information about the fight for equality in women’s sports and sports media can be found on the website of the Women’s Sports Foundation. 

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