Cantwell, Capito Introduce Bipartisan Legislation for Equal Pay for All Athletes Competing Under the American Flag

July 13, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, which has jurisdiction over the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC), and Senator Shelley Moore-Capito (R-WV) today reintroduced their bipartisan plan to ensure equal pay for Americans who represent our country in global athletic competitions, like the Olympics, regardless of gender.  Today, men and women can be paid differently for representing Team USA in the same sport.

“All Americans are proud to see U.S. athletes represent our country on the world stage, and all Americans should be assured these athletes are being compensated equally,” Senator Cantwell said. “Anything short of that sends exactly the wrong message across the world and here at home about the American commitment to equality and fairness. It is long past time for us to work together to right this wrong and get this done.”

“When American athletes compete on the world stage, they represent our great nation, our people, and our values,” Senator Capito said. “It is only right that the women competing for the United States in global athletic competitions receive the same kind of pay and benefits as their male counterparts. This is an issue we can address together, not as Democrats and Republicans, but as Americans, and I’m proud to join Senator Cantwell in introducing this legislation.”

The Equal Pay for Team USA Act of 2021, would require that all athletes representing the United States in global athletic competitions receive equal compensation, benefits, medical care, travel, and reimbursement of expenses, regardless of gender. 

The bill applies to 50 different sports’ national governing bodies, and it requires the USOPC to conduct oversight and report on compliance with the legislation.  

What They’re Saying about the Equal Pay for Team USA Act:  

·   Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Association

“We commend Senators Cantwell and Capito for recognizing that female athletes who represent the USA in global athletic competitions deserve the same pay and benefits as their male counterparts. As those of us who coach college women’s basketball witnessed firsthand at the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship in San Antonio, equality for female athletes still eludes us. We hope the Equal Pay for Team USA Act will bring us one step closer to achieving equity for female athletes especially within the USA Basketball family.” –Cori Close (The Michael Price Family UCLA Head Women’s Basketball Coach; Women’s Basketball Coaches Association President-Elect)

·   Champion Women

“America’s Olympic Athletes, National Team Athletes, and Paralympic Athletes are uniquely unprotected from sexism, unequal pay and treatment. Our athletes aren’t employees protected by Title VII and they aren’t students, protected by Title IX. The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee has been unwilling to address these inequalities, even when U.S. Soccer, one of 50 National Governing Bodies overseen by the Committee, continues to grossly underpay its U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team as compared with their male counterparts - for decades now. Senator Cantwell and Capito’s Equal Pay for Team USA Act of 2021 will rectify this long-standing injustice by amending the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, the statute that governs America’s Olympic Movement. If passed, the Act will fill the gap in legal remedies for women representing all Americans on U.S. National Teams, requiring equal pay and treatment when sports are sex-segregated, like most sports except equestrian and sailing. The next time our Team USA wins an international competition, we can all be confident and proud that America values women’s accomplishments.” –Nancy Hogshead-Makar, J.D. (CEO, Champion Women, civil rights lawyer, two-time Olympian, three-time gold medalist)

·    Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Professor of Law, University of Baltimore; Director, Center for Sport and the Law; Co-Chair, USOPC Commission

“For the nearly 50 years since Title IX was enacted, the United States has seen the benefits of guaranteeing women and girls an equal right to participate in sports. The results on the international stage, across a range of sports, speak for themselves. The Equal Pay for Team USA Act moves Title IX’s legacy forward in an important way by ensuring that women who represent the United States are treated equally.” –Dionne Koller

·   US Squash

“US Squash is proud to support this important legislation. We led the way in parity for prize money in pro squash globally by offering it first in 2013, and all the other ‘majors’ followed within two years. We also pay our high-performance program athletes the same regardless of gender, and have the goal of full parity in participation across juniors, and adults by 2030.” –Kevin Klipstein (President & CEO)

·   Sports Fans Coalition

“Chair Cantwell and Senator Capito’s Equal Pay for Team USA Act is the only bipartisan equal pay legislation in Congress. Sports Fans Coalition applauds these two champions for their leadership on such an important issue for the young girls who will grow up to be our next Gold Medalists. Sports Fans Coalition stands behind this legislation.” –Brian Hess (Executive Director)

·   American Volleyball Coaches Association

“We understand that the marketplace for sports still skews heavily in favor of males and that an educationally-based model for sport development, requiring equal opportunity, is unique to the United States. Having said that, compensation controlled by NGB’s related to expenses for travel and accommodation of U.S. teams at international competitions must reflect our values. The marketplace value of an athlete is beyond the control of an NGB, but fair treatment on expenses is an American value.” –Kathy DeBoer (Executive Director)

·   West Virginia University Women’s Soccer Team

“After 27 years coaching amateur athletes in college, I have seen firsthand the inequalities in our current system. The women I have coached work just as, if not harder than their counterparts. They deserve equal compensation for that. I applaud West Virginia’s own Senator Capito and Chair Cantwell for introducing this monumental legislation.” –Nikki-Izzo Brown (Head Coach)

“I have coached or played soccer for most of my life. Despite the hard work and the inequalities, my passion for ‘the people’s game’ is undying. Sadly, this isn't the case for everyone. The Equal Pay for Team USA Act can change that for countless women in our sport. Senator Capito and Chairwoman Cantwell’s leadership on this issue is unparalleled and I look forward to working alongside them every step of the way.” –Lisa Stoia (Senior Associate Head Coach)

·   Equality League

“Equality League is proud to support The Equal Pay for Team USA Act to ensure our nation's amateur athletes will receive equal compensation and benefits, regardless of gender. We commend Chairwoman Cantwell and Senator Capito for introducing this important bipartisan legislation. The Equal Pay for Team USA Act aligns with our mission to advance gender equality in sport by changing discriminatory policies and practices and our current Title IX 50 By 50 campaign to close gender gaps in college sports. We believe this Act can influence the pipeline of girls and women participating in sport to provide opportunities for them to reach the elite level of our Olympians.” –Mara Gubuan (Founder)

List of Organizations Supporting the Equal Pay for Team USA Act:

  • Alliance of Social Workers in Sports
  • American Volleyball Coaches Association
  • Athlete Ally
  • Center for Sport, Peace & Society – University of Tennessee
  • Champion Women
  • Equality League
  • Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media
  • National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association
  • National Organization for Women
  • National Women’s Law Center
  • Sports Fans Coalition
  • The Female Quotient
  • The Tucker Center – University of Minnesota
  • Trajectory Women
  • UltraViolet
  • UN Women
  • US Squash
  • USA Curling
  • USA Volleyball
  • USA Water Ski & Wake Sports
  • West Virginia University Women’s Soccer Team
  • Women Win
  • Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Association
  • Women’s Sports Foundation
  • Wrestle Like a Girl

You can read the full text of Senator Cantwell and Senator Capito’s bipartisan plan HERE