Nike’s “Dream Crazier” ad shows the imbalance and revolution of females within sports

Nike released an advertisement on Sunday, Feb. 24 that focused on female athletes and their roles in the sports world. The ad, entitled “Dream Crazier,” is a call for all female athletes not to feel discouraged and to continue proving their worth through diligence and dedication.

The ad begins as a critical commentary on the unfair expectations placed on the shoulders of women through an emotional perspective. However, it transitions into an uplifting message of empowerment. This is shown through the accomplishments of prominent female athletes, such as Lisa Leslie’s first dunk in WNBA history, and Katie Ormerod’s historic double-cork-1080o in 2014.

“I thought the ad was fantastic. Nike did a great job at showing just how powerful and tenacious women are … when they put their mind to something they are destined to achieve it,” said Zoe March, a junior guard on APU’s women’s basketball team.

“Clearly, it has taken a lot of hard work for women to be rewarded this platform.”

Photo courtesy of APU Sports Information

To fully understand the severity of the issues faced by women in sports, it’s necessary to examine the history of the topics. In 1972, the U.S. government initiated Title IX, a law stating that any federally funded institution can not discriminate based on an individual’s sex. This created a major shift in the number of women competing in sport. However, in many ways it has failed to incorporate a drastic change.

A multitude of investigations conducted by established organizations, such as the National Women’s Law Center, have found several educational institutions such as high schools and colleges continually ignore the principles of Title IX.

One of the most noticeable ways this is seen is through the funding of scholarships. According to a CNN article, male collegiate athletes get $190 million more per year in scholarships than female collegiate athletes.

The unfair economic trends can also be seen throughout professional sports. For example, an average salary for a WNBA player is around $50,000, while for an NBA player it is $6.2 million.

This means the average professional female basketball player is making less than one percent of their male counterpart.

This margin is ridiculous, but there is some justification for the lopsided pay. The NBA generates about $7.4 billion in annual revenue, compared to the WNBA’s $60 million. However, this is only one sport; soccer is an entirely different story.

The U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) failed to qualify for the World Cup in 2018. They are continuously ranked under teams like Spain, Brazil and France. On the other hand, the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) has won three World Cups and is posed to go on a run in this year’s tourney.

However, the wages are still heavily skewed for the USMNT over the USWNT. Unlike the organizational differences between the WNBA and NBA, there doesn’t seem to be a legitimate reason for the gap since the teams’ revenues are not very different.

“I’ve been following the pay gap lawsuit between the men’s and women’s national team, and I’m so happy that they are fighting for their right to equal pay. I am in complete support for what they are doing,” said Kaylee Nicoll, a sophomore midfielder on APU’s women’s soccer team.

“It makes me sad that they even have to force a change that shouldn’t even need to take place.”

Photo courtesy of APU Sports Information

In addition, women in athletics are also faced with certain emotional expectations that men do not usually associate with. When a man shows emotion while playing, he is simply considered passionate. When a woman shows emotion, people think they are being unreasonable.

This observation is what Nike focused on throughout the commercial. Stereotypes of women not being able to control their emotions are prevalent in the media. This prejudice applies to both female players and coaches, and most have faced criticism from fans.

“There have been multiple occasions where officials will give me a yellow card and say that it was because the tone of my pitch was too high,” said Julie Snodgrass, head coach of APU’s water polo team.

“People always ask me when was the last time I had experienced a bias between men and women coaching on the sidelines and engaging with referees. And my response is ‘well, when was my last game?'”

Moments like this are what makes being a woman in athletics so difficult. In order to be respected by others, female athletes are forced to find a balance between being a competitor and holding the common societal ideals that are placed on women’s shoulders. If that balance is not met towards other people’s standards, these women often struggle with their identities.

Photo courtesy of APU Sports Information

“My girls and all female athletes have to struggle with identity as a fierce competitor. The world differentiates between what makes a good female and what makes a good athlete,” Snodgrass said. “Having to find that balance is so challenging because people assume if you are too much of a girl you can’t be an athlete, or if you are too much of an athlete you can’t be a girl. And these sort of pressures can absolutely shatter anyone’s inner confidence.”

However, the underlying message of the Nike ad was certainly a positive one. It is imperative to notice female stereotypes within sports that need to be changed, but it is equally important to note the progress women have made through sports.

The narrator of the ad is tennis legend and 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams. Through her incredible accomplishments she has become one of the most successful athletes of all time, not just of female athletes, but of all professional athletes. She is one of the most influential people in the world and serves as an inspiration to millions of women around the world.

Photo courtesy of Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

“Serena has provided an amazing platform for the game of tennis and the women that play it,” said senior Kara Hinton, captain of APU’s women’s tennis team.

“She embodies the idea of a strong female athlete being acknowledged for her skill rather than anything else. And for a young girl to see this and to have a desire to play sports, she will be inspired to do great things.”

Photo courtesy of APU Sports Information

This Nike ad is powerful in today’s culture. It allowed viewers to realize the beauty behind female growth through sports, but it also brought attention to issues that are still present in professional athletics.

The incredible effort from women over the last century has helped narrow the gap between women’s and men’s sports, but there is a long way to go. It is time for female athletes to receive what they deserve.