Bethany Balcer may have won the NWSL (National Women's Soccer League) Rookie player of the Year, but the reward for obtaining such a feat could not have been anything other than an accolade.
Aged just 22 and with the world at her feet, Bethany appeared in all 24 matches for Reign FC. And her contributions were very impressive indeed. A 6-goal return demonstrated the flair that she was known for possessing, but she did what few young players have been able to do: produce the end product.
So what was the recognition for such a stellar season? For all the demands being placed on closing the pay gap between men and women's football, her reward was rather insulting. Bethany was given a $50 gift card, not by the league, but by the NWSL Players Association. Just when you thought that was bad enough, the card was designated specifically for the purchase of burritos.
When this is read in light of other women's sports, there is clearly an argument for radical reform. According to the Women's National Basketball Association, a winner of the Rookie player of the Year can expect to walk away with approximately $6,000 based on the 2020 winner. Quite rightly, then, Bethany made her feelings on social media known.
In a Twitter post, she remarked: "Why is equal pay important? I got a $50 gift card to chipotle for winning rookie of the year in 2019. that's it. we need a CBA in this league, and we need to move forward, not backwards."
The debate surrounding equal pay surely needs to be looked at in light of Bethany's reward. And one thing it does show is that players need to be rewarded, which will only go on to close the gap in achieving parity with pay across all sports