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For centuries, women were more or less excluded from organized athletics, relegated to more “feminine” tasks like being homemakers or taking care of children. 

A lot has changed. 

Women have their own leagues and divisions in all sports now, and while the WNBA might not ever be as popular as the NBA, for example, things are more equal now than they’ve ever been. 

But it’s been a gradual process that took many iconoclastic women to get to this point.

To learn more about the culture of women’s strength and the history of women in sports, I invited journalist Haley Shapley on the podcast. 

In this episode, we discuss Haley’s new book Strong Like Her, which offers a deep dive into the world of women’s athleticism throughout history. We chat about . . .

  • How she got involved in women’s sports and why she wrote the book
  • How you’re in control of your body and can avoid getting bulky
  • The differences in how women and men are treated in sports
  • Unique challenges women face like being paid less and lack of sufficient maternity leave
  • The different dimensions of athleticism and why men are viewed as more athletic

Let’s get to it!


4:57 – What inspired you to make this book?

7:21 – How was that experience for you personally?

17:24 – What were some of the most inspiring stories you wrote about?

28:50 – What are your thoughts on the challenges that women face today?

39:13 – Where can people find you and your work? 

Mentioned on The Show:

Haley Shapley’s New Book – Strong Like Her

Haley Shapley’s Instagram

Haley Shapley’s Website

Legion VIP One-on-One Coaching

What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!


Mike: Hello, I’m Mike Matthews, and this is Muscle for Life. See, that’s how I amuse myself. Just some new, weird way to welcome you to another episode of the podcast. And this one is an interview with Haley Shapley, who has a book that just came out called Strong Like Her, and it is all about women and strength.

So, for centuries, and… Much longer, actually. Really, probably for millennia, women were more or less excluded from athletics and were relegated to more feminine things, like being homemakers and taking care of children, which are vital activities, I might add, and not easy ones, and we are lucky we’ve had women to do these things for so long, because I think they’re much better at them than a I mean, could you imagine a world without women?

Could you imagine how disgusting the planet would be if we didn’t have women to tame our more grotesque instincts? Anyways, back on track, back on track. A lot has changed for women. A lot has changed for the better. They have their own sports leagues now, and divisions, and pretty much all sports. And while the WNBA might not ever be as popular as the NBA, things are more equal now than they’ve ever been.

But, it has been a gradual process, and it has been marked by a lot of hard won victories by iconoclastic women. who were courageous enough to go against the grain and pave the way to what we have today and to learn more about this and the culture of women’s strength and athletics and the history of women in sports.

I invited journalist Haley Shapley onto the podcast, and in this episode, we discuss her new book, which again is called Strong Like Her, and it offers a deep dive into the world of female athletics throughout history. And in this interview, Haley and I chat about how she got involved in women’s. Sports and why she wrote the book how you are in control of your body and how you can avoid getting bulky This is something hayley experienced firsthand competing in a women’s bikini competition like women’s bodybuilding Basically, we also talk about the differences in how men and women are treated in sports and some of the unique challenges that women still face Like being paid less and a lack of sufficient maternity leave and more.

Now, before we get to the show, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, and if you want to help me help more people get into the best shape of their lives, please consider checking out my VIP one on one coaching service. My team and I have helped people of all ages. circumstances, and needs.

So no matter how complicated or hopeless you might think your situation is, don’t worry. We will figure out how to get you the results you want. Every diet and training program we create is 100 percent custom. We provide daily workout logs. We do weekly accountability calls. Our clients get priority email service as well as discounts on supplements and the list goes on and on.

We basically do everything we can to help you lose fat, gain muscle and get healthy as quickly and enjoyably. That’s an important point as possible. So to learn more, head over to legionathletics. com slash coaching and schedule your free consultation call. Now there is usually a wait list and new slots do fill up quickly.

So don’t wait. Just head over to legionathletics. com slash coaching, lock in your free consultation call, and let’s see if there’s a good fit. Hey, Hailey, welcome to my podcast.

Haley: Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Mike: Yeah, yeah. I’m excited too. This is a different discussion than I normally have, which is a nice, it’s a nice change of pace.

The normal programming is either me rambling for 30 or 40 minutes about some element of getting more jacked or maybe more healthy or interviewing somebody about how to get bigger, stronger or healthier. So. This is going to be fun. This is going to be something also that is going to be more geared specifically to women, which I always like because most of my content is gender neutral.

But whenever I’ve produced content more specifically for women, I get a lot of good feedback. So here we are. I think this is going to be a well received interview. Fantastic. Yeah. And, uh, so I think a good place to start here is, so you have this book Strong Like Her that just came out. And the first question I have for you is what inspired you to write this book?

Why this project?

Haley: Yeah, so Strong Like Her is a cultural history about women and physical strength, and it was really inspired by both my personal experiences and some larger cultural observations that I was noticing. So I grew up playing a lot of sports, and I was always on some team going to some practice, but it wasn’t until about Maybe five years ago that I really put a focus into strength training and I was amazed by how quickly my beliefs about my capabilities and my body changed in a short amount of time.

And I felt like I was seeing this idea of women being strong and muscular a lot on social media and on TV, like with American Ninja Warrior. I suddenly knew more women personally who were into powerlifting or weightlifting or CrossFit or whatever it might be. So in 2016, I decided to start training for a bodybuilding show and I was fascinated by the reactions to that.

On one hand, a lot of people were really intrigued and they were curious about what my training plan looked like or what I was eating or what I would be wearing on stage or whatever it might be. But then I also had another group of people. people who were concerned about the fact that I might be lifting too heavy or that I might get too big or otherwise change my body in a way that wasn’t considered conventionally attractive.

So a lot of people were also really interested in talking about how my new hobby affected my relationship with men and whether I could date or whether they would find this appealing or not appealing. So. That range of reactions was really interesting to me. And I started kind of turning those concepts around in my head about how on one hand, we had more women in the spotlight who were strong and happily putting that on display while on the other hand, we still have these deeply ingrained ideas about what women.

can and should do. Um, so I wanted to know more about how that evolved. And so I started to read books and articles about the history of fitness. Cause I knew that there were women who were strong from the beginning of time. And I discovered that the material out there was primarily about men. So I really set out to uncover these stories about the women who were pushing their physical potential before that was a socially acceptable thing to do.

And I found a lot of really interesting, colorful stories along the way.

Mike: How was that experience for you personally when you went from playing sports, which is a certain type of activity, and also it produces a certain type of physique, probably the type of physique that most women, I mean, in my experience, having worked with many, many women over the years, that’s maybe how they would feel.

Yeah. Describe the way they would like to look. They would liken it more to their ideal physique. They would liken more to an athlete, but very few women, at least that I’ve spoken to. And these are everyday, normal women who just want to be in good shape. They often have families and jobs, and they’re not going to be in the gym hours a day.

They care about their fitness, but it’s not their entire life. Very few of them would say, Oh, I want to bodybuilder. So how was that experience for you? Both personally and just the points that you brought up, like, how was it perceived then by other people? How did it affect your dating life? I’m just curious.

Haley: Right. Well, I would have said the same thing before I signed up for it. Personally wasn’t interested in looking like a bodybuilder. I couldn’t tell you why I felt that way, but that was an idea in my mind that. That wasn’t something that I wanted to look like or that I aspired to be. But as I started strength training, I really started to respect the work that goes into developing muscle and developing a more muscular physique.

And I should say I competed in the bikini category, which is kind of the lowest level of muscularity. So there are different categories within bodybuilding and there are different physiques. In those different categories.

Mike: But even bikini is very muscular by you compare what, where you were on stage to where the average woman is certainly more muscular than average.

Haley: Definitely. Yes. And, and the reactions were varied. You know, some people thought it was cool and they admired the work that went into it. And I had some people who came to the show to support me and they were. Yeah. What’s the word for it? Kind of like flabbergasted by what was going on. Bodybuilding is its own kind of subculture.

And when you see all these orange bodies and you see this, these really muscular physiques like that, is outside the norm of kind of the everyday average person. So, you know, my dad, for instance, was just like blown away by everything that was going on. He did not understand it. He was confused by the whole concept.

But I appreciate the people who came out to support me, even though they didn’t quite understand what was going on and they weren’t sure it was, you know, something that interested them. So there was a range of reactions, but I do think people are more interested in And more accepting now of women building a muscular physique, although there are limits to that, of course.

Mike: Yeah, for sure. And there’s also the point I think it’s worth mentioning. And this is something that I talk about in my book for women. And I’ve explained to many women who have reached out to me via email, Instagram, that just as the average guy doesn’t have the genetics to get to jacked by male standards, the average woman simply.

Does not have it in them to gain enough muscle. So long as they understand how body fat plays into this, into what they see in the mirror, the average woman is not ever going to be able to gain enough muscle to look like a guy, which is going back to that point of bodybuilding, at least in my discussions with women.

A lot of times that’s the immediate association is like, Oh, bodybuilding is the big muscle head guys that I see in the gym, or maybe I’ve seen even. Online, what I see on stage, and I definitely don’t want that. And what many women are pleased to realize when they get into weightlifting, I’m sure you went through this as well as, yes, you can gain muscle.

Yes, you can get strong. But again, so long as you know what range of body fat percentage you prefer in terms of the look you want, you don’t ever have to look quote unquote bulky, right? That’s the word a lot of women have used to tell me what they definitely do not want.

Haley: Yes. I talk about that word bulky quite a bit in the book because that is a big concern for women.

And what I discovered about myself is I couldn’t look bulky if I tried, although it’s worth pointing out that everyone has a different definition of bulky. So there may be women who think that I looked bulky on stage. I wouldn’t have defined it like that, but building muscle is hard for me and it’s something I’ve had to work at.

And You know, getting stronger is, is something that’s attainable for women. But yes, most do not have the genetics to gain a ton of muscle. And you have to have a very low body fat percentage in order for that muscle to really show through in a way that you probably wouldn’t like. And one thing I always tell women who are concerned about that is, you know, it’s not going to happen overnight.

It’s not usually going to happen by accident. Most women who have extremely muscular physiques have worked intentionally toward that. So if your body is ever changing in a way that you don’t like, you can always change your training or your diet and rein it back in. So it’s not something that is permanent or that you have to be unhappy with the way that you look because you’re really in control of it to some extent.

Mike: Yeah, totally true. I mean, you just put to put numbers to it. The average guy can gain probably 40, 45 pounds, max 50 pounds of muscle period in his entire lifetime. No matter what he does, he is not going to get bigger than that. The average woman, it’s probably about half that.

And that’s based on quite a bit of research and data that’s out there. And I think that’s a much more accurate than inaccurate statement. And so. Not only then are you looking at maybe a lifetime potential of, of 25 ish for the average woman, 25 ish pounds of muscle, probably a little bit less, it’s going to take, I would say it’ll take the average woman who wants to do that, who says, I want to get as muscular as I possibly can.

It’ll probably take five years of dedicated work to get there, and that means five years of regulating. Your calorie intake and, uh, you could say your macronutrient intake as well, like following meal plans, paying attention to how you’re eating training, let’s say four to six hours per week, and you’re going to inevitably miss some time due to the sporadic illness here and there, whatever, but no long breaks, like really sticking to it.

For I’d say probably about five years. And so just to that point that you made that it does not happen overnight is a slow process. And if at any point a woman looks in the mirror and is like, okay, I’m pretty happy with my muscle development or tone or definition, depending on what words you want to use.

But when she looks in the mirror and says, Hey, I’m pretty happy with this. And then along the way, if she’s learned that she likes her body fat percentage, Again, in working with a lot of women, they seem to the, the goal seems to be somewhere between, let’s say 20, 25%. A lot of women, it’s usually somewhere closer to 20.

And so once you get there and you look in the mirror and you’re like, Oh, okay. Then, like you said, you can then change what you’re doing. You can still exercise. You can still work out. You can still train even intensely without getting any more muscle. If that’s what you want. And also to your point of if there’s at any point where you’re like, you know, my arms are too big because we all have parts of our bodies that are high responders to weightlifting or to resistance training, then yeah, you can actually address that and you can shrink certain muscle groups.

You can go, you know what? Actually, my lats are too much for me. I want to change that. And you can. So it’s cool to see people go through that process and realize that their body composition, not just in terms of raw numbers, but even down to the muscle groups really is under their control. And they really can get to their.

Sweet spot and whatever that is for them. And like you said, bulky is a subjective thing. What’s bulky to you may not be to somebody else or what is ideal to you might be bulky to somebody else. But you’re absolutely right that it’s under your control and it’s a gradual process that You never get stuck, like paint yourself into a corner or train yourself into a corner where you’re like, fuck, now I’m stuck with a body I don’t like.

Haley: Right. Absolutely. Yeah. I think everything you’re saying is true. And I know for me, my idea is about what I wanted to look like evolved over time too. So you may find that as you start training more, lifting more weights, your idea about the way that you can look. Might shift too, so you can always be open to that.

But yes, you’re never going to be stuck with more muscle than you want. I, I think that’s something you can easily address.

Mike: Hey, before we continue, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, and if you want to help me help more people get into the best shape of their lives, please consider checking out my v i p one-on-one coaching service. Now my team and I have helped thousands of people. of all ages, circumstances, and needs.

So, no matter how complicated or maybe even hopeless you might think your situation is, we will figure out how to get you the results you want. Every diet and training program we create is 100 percent custom. We provide daily workout logs and we do weekly accountability calls. Our clients get priority email service as well as Discounts on supplements and the list goes on and on.

To learn more, just head over to legionathletics. com slash coaching and if you like what you see, schedule your free consultation call. Now there’s normally a wait list to work with our coaches and new slots do fill up very quickly. So if this sounds even remotely interesting to you, head over to legionathletics.

com slash coaching now and schedule your free consultation call and let’s see if our program is a good fit for you. Let’s shift gears now and talk about the book specifically. So you talk about a number of female athletes in the book and I’m curious who… Were some of your favorites to, to write about and research, like what were some of the most inspiring stories to you?

Haley: It’s hard to choose because there are so many amazing stories in the book. And that was my favorite part was just learning about all of these women who led incredible lives. I think a good inspirational athlete to choose is always Billie Jean King because she really took a lot of pressure on her shoulders when she accepted Bobby Riggs challenge to play in the battle of the sexes.

She advocated for women making equal prize money from the start. And because of her efforts, tennis has been one of the sports that has had a good prize purse for women for a long time. And she’s continued to fight for social justice and women’s equality in the years since. So I think she’s a good example of an athlete who’s used her, her popularity for good.

And one thing that I think gets sometimes forgotten in her story is that she lost 2 million overnight back in the early eighties when she was outed. Without her knowledge. And the fact that she kept fighting even after that is an admirable quality because a lot of people would kind of shrink away after an experience like that.

So Billie Jean King had a relationship with a woman that was not public knowledge, and that came to light in interview. And once her sponsors found out it was a big deal at the time, because that wasn’t accepted when she was playing tennis. And she. Lost all of our sponsors, um, in a matter of, you know, 48 hours.

So we’ve come a long way on LGBT issues, of course. And, and that wouldn’t happen today, but that is what happened to her.

Mike: And how does she respond to that?

Haley: She. Responded by just continuing to, to do what you loved and to play tennis and to, to get out there and keep advocating for women

Mike: Are willing to keep fighting and keep going.

And if we’re talking about, I don’t think it’s just sports. I think it’s, it definitely applies to business and any sort of competitive arena. If you can keep winning, then you can. Still be relevant and people will in time get over whatever might have gotten their blood up back then and come to admire you again, simply because you don’t give up and you keep fighting.

And obviously her story is like the positive version of that and Tiger Woods would be the negative version, but I just found it interesting that in Tiger Woods’s case, you can go that far. And still be considered a respectable competitor and even a champion by just continuing to stick to it and continue to win is just an interesting observation.

Haley: It is interesting and I do think that it’s worth noting that men, male athletes are given a little bit more leeway in that area. One of the women I profile in the book, Babe Dedrickson was largely considered one of the best athletes of all time. She’s known for golf like Tiger Woods and for track and field.

She won three medals in the 1932 Olympics, but she was accomplished in. Many other sports. She was an all American in basketball. She was great at swimming, diving, billiards, roller skating. You name it. She was just athletic. She had that talent for pretty much anything she tried, but she had a tough personality and she wasn’t always easy to get along with and the press really.

Stuck it to her with terrible comments. They were always making fun of the way that she looked and they were always questioning why she. Didn’t have a boyfriend and things like that and she was treated much differently than the male athletes of the era For having the confidence to kind of be like them and to be so competitive at a time when women weren’t Supposed to be that competitive.

So I do think that male and female athletes get treated Differently, but your point is well taken that if you can continue to succeed and be successful and persevere, that is something that the public admires.

Mike: Yeah, I agree. What’s another story from the book that really resonated with you personally and why?

Haley: Oh, gosh, there are so many. One of the stories I love is from the 1870s, there was a woman named Ada Anderson who was a pedestrian, and that was a sport that has largely been forgotten today, but in the 1870s and 1880s, pedestrianism was America’s first spectator sport, and it involved walking for a really long time.

This could either be. around a track, or it could be from point A to point B, like perhaps from New York to Chicago, and people would wager on these walks. Sometimes they would be head to head with other competitors, and sometimes it would just be they were trying to get to a certain goal by in a certain amount of time.

And She started her career in the UK, but wanted to come to the U. S. and struggled to find a venue that would host her for this, um, walking match that she wanted to do. But she walked for almost 28 straight days, I think. And… At the time, women weren’t, women didn’t exercise for fun, really. There was some exercise that was starting in schools, but certainly not exerting yourself to that, to that level was accepted at the time.

But she really wanted to show that women were capable of doing more than they’d been told that they could. And she put her money where her mouth was and she proved it. So I think she was just a really interesting. Example of an athlete who, who did something kind of crazy, but she was a good role model for women at the time.

And a lot started to move more, not to the extent that she did, but they started to value movement after seeing what she could accomplish.

Mike: Do you think that a lot of these types of exceptional accomplishments, even though something like that you, you have to understand the context to understand why it’s exceptional.

It’s a lot of walking for sure. But when you explain the context, you see that it wasn’t just, Oh, she walked a bunch. It was also, there was a cultural element where that Wasn’t really something that women were supposed to do. Like, shouldn’t it be a guy out walking a bunch or exercising? Or it’s just probably was like a male dominated activity.

But do you think that these types of exceptional accomplishments have done? And this is, this is a theory of mine. So I’m curious as to your, as to your thoughts that doing extraordinary things or. And just extraordinary being by the dictionary definition, just outside of the ordinary, even if, for example, walking that much, there’s probably a lot of people who could do that today.

I might be wrong, but I don’t think that requires necessarily exceptional physicality, but it requires grit determination. And you do have to be fit to be able to do it, but that by having women do these things and a lot of events, a lot of the things that you talk about in your book, that that has done a lot for, like you’re saying, just the idea of changing the cultural perception of women.

So I look at it as like, there are two different ways you can try to. Change something, right? You can. Well, let’s say what a lot of people do is they just complain. Let’s just say in life, right? They just see things in their life and they see things out in the world that they think are wrong and they just complain about them.

And I think that even if we’re to Say that it’s at the level of maybe criticism where that is warranted. Some things should be criticized, should be openly criticized. There’s the lowest level of maybe just whining, personally whining about things, but then there’s a bit higher pointing out things that should change or that are not right.

But then there’s also what else then are we going to do? So if we’re talking about the social fabric of the time, which was, it was lopsided, I guess you could say in certain ways where it was favoring men over women in certain activities and spheres of interest and what you’re supposed to be doing with your time and so forth.

By it’s one thing to criticize, but it’s another thing to offer another alternative, like, okay, so if, if that’s bad or if that, if we don’t like that, what are we going to do instead? And actions always speak louder than words. And so that’s something that I’ve just, I’ve noticed and it’s, it’s maybe obvious anybody who thinks about it, but I love stories like these because these aren’t people who just.

sat on the sidelines and complained, Oh, this is such a male dominated patriarchal society. They went and did something to show that it could be different. And that is much more inspiring and effective, I think, than just complaining.

Haley: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s kind of like that adage that, you know, a picture is worth a thousand words or even action speak louder than words.

When we see a visual representation, something real of someone accomplishing something or doing something for their cause, that image sticks in your mind more than just hearing some more words about why this cause is important. So I think a lot of the athletes in my book were really exceptional at whatever they did.

And. Of course, the general population was never going to be. That exceptional, but by seeing these examples of women, it changed their ideas about what they could do or about what women could do. So yeah, absolutely. I think your theory is right on there.

Mike: And those effects can be so far reaching going back to tiger woods.

The reason why I’m using him in golf is because I like golf. I play golf. I don’t really follow sports much, but I know a little bit about golf, but there are so many professional golfers today and semi professional golfers. Who started in the sport because they saw Tiger Woods playing it and he was something completely out of the ordinary and they wanted to, he made it cool.

And so similarly, how many women saw what these other women were doing and completely changed their right, right there. Maybe they decided, maybe it’s not, I’m going to become a professional pedestrian, but I’m, I’m going to pursue this other thing over here that is maybe not culturally. Acceptable, but I want to do it, so I’m going to do it.

Haley: Yeah, absolutely. And I, we see a lot of, or I’ve seen a lot of examples of that in the book too, where women will cite someone who did something first and that really inspired them to get into the sport or to try out a sport of their own or start lifting weights or whatever it might be. So yeah, I don’t think you can underestimate how important it is to have those trailblazers who, for whatever reason.

Capture people’s imaginations and, and inspire them to. To try something similar.

Mike: Absolutely. What are your thoughts on some of the challenges, the bigger challenges that women face today in sports? Cause things have changed a lot since some of the earlier periods that you talk about in your book. What are your thoughts on the current landscape?

Haley: Well, I think the good news is that things have changed a lot and women don’t face as many challenges as they did in the past. Yeah, they absolutely do still face some. I think the U S women’s soccer team is a great example. Like how good are they and how hard have they had to struggle to get paid on par with the men’s team?

You know, the argument against women athletes being paid equally. Has often been that they don’t bring in the same revenue as men, but we have this example right here in front of us of women who bring in more dollars and are more successful. And they’re still fighting for that, for that equal pay and for that equal respect.

And we see this as well in a lot of sponsorship deals. Many track and field athletes have been speaking out about this lately. And especially in regard to maternity leave policies and their contracts and having to come back to training earlier than they wanted to, or really should have because their pay was frozen while they were pregnant.

So last year, Kara Goucher, Alicia Montagna, Alison Felix, all very successful. Running, uh, track and field athletes came out around the same time and shared their stories and companies took notice and they did start to implement some better policies. So I’m hopeful that that will continue to improve. So I do think that equal pay is one of the major issues facing women’s sports right now.

Mike: I seem to remember, I didn’t read too much about or read too much into that situation with the women’s, the US team, but if I remember correctly, wasn’t there actually a huge disparity though in, I don’t really follow soccer, but wasn’t there a huge disparity in revenue between the men’s? It was like. It was an order of magnitude.

It was, I think the women’s generated a couple hundred million in revenue and the men’s was like a couple billion. Am I remembering wrong?

Haley: Well, the women now generate more than the men. In the past, the men have generated more, but the women have won the World Cup, you know, the past two. Times it’s been contested and they are now bringing in more revenue.

So I guess it depends on the time period that you’re looking at.

Mike: I was doing the last one, women’s soccer. There’s no way women’s soccer brings in more revenue than men’s. It’s that has to be impossible. Soccer is so huge in Europe. It’s like, if you don’t watch men’s soccer, there’s something wrong with you if you’re European.

Haley: Yeah. So world. I, okay. I see what you’re talking about now worldwide. Yes, I think that’s true. But the U S women’s soccer team brings in more revenue at this moment in time than the U S men’s soccer team.

Mike: Oh, I see. I see. And, and the men’s soccer team, those players get paid more.

Haley: Yes.

Mike: Really? Oh, interesting.

I didn’t know that.

Haley: Yeah. That’s the whole battle.

Mike: I thought the controversy was supposedly over. Uh, well, yeah, I guess so. If you look at it though, I mean, I’d have, I’d be curious how they’re determining how much money the men’s is bringing because that’s just part of the overall. It was what I remember seeing is it was revenue regarding the entire affair.

Yeah. For women, not just the team, but like the whole world cup that generates a certain amount of revenue and the men’s generates like an order of magnitude more. So as the money is, I think how the money is split up is like, it’s kind of, it’s probably tournament style. Like you get a certain amount of money, your team gets a certain amount of money for participating.

And then you get more, the better you do. So when you have a much bigger pie and then each team gets a slice of that pie already, like they’re already going to get more. And then of course the teams who win or that win are going to get even more. That was my understanding of it. But again, I didn’t read too much into it.

Haley: Yeah. And I don’t know all of the financials around it either. I just know that starting in recent years here in the U. S., the women have generated quite a lot of money in however teams generate money, you know, with, with, uh, sales of apparel and all of that kind of stuff. And they’re still Not getting what the men’s team is getting as far as not just money, but access to training, travel, benefits, um, coaching, medical treatment, things like that.

Those areas of compensation are not equal and yet they’ve been so successful there. The best team in the world.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Totally. No, I understand that. I guess it all just needs to be proportionate to revenue though. And that’s again, something I’d have to look into the exact numbers, but fundamentally, of course, I completely disagree if the women are getting proportionately less than the men when you look at the overall revenue.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the case to some degree. But that would makes makes obvious sense. Like, yeah, that should be corrected. However, if we’re talking about absolute amounts, the women, they can’t, if that proportionate pay, if that’s not an issue, if women are being, if they’re, let’s say that is the case now, or if that were the case, if everybody was paid proportionately the same, then the solution needs to be, how do you make women’s?

Soccer, for example, or any sport more popular and how do you make it bring in more revenue? So then the proportionate amounts that trickle down to the various, because all of that stuff you’re saying costs money, obviously. And so then that ultimately is the solution is how do you grow the pie while also making sure that it’s fairly distributed, right?

Haley: Yeah, definitely. And I, I get those arguments about. Salaries being proportionate to, to how much they’re bringing in. I think that leads into another sort of issue facing women today is still a challenge in sports is this idea of respect. And again, this is changing for the better, but you know, there is still this idea that men are superior athletes and it’s easy to see why that argument is made because men can lift more weight and they can run faster.

And, and there’s no doubt that the average man has more speed, power, and. strength compared to the average woman. But one of the concepts I explore in the book a little bit is the paradigm in which we view athletic achievement and what we value. I talked to Catherine Switzer for the book, and, uh, she was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with a number on.

And there’s an iconic series of shots of the race director trying to pull her off the course. This was in 1967. But she believes that sports of the future might look completely different than they do today. And if these sports put a premium on flexibility and balance and endurance, instead of strength, speed, and power, we might have a very different idea about who we think the best athletes are.

And so that’s just an interesting concept to think about that we have these, there’s a lot of different dimensions of athleticism. And if we put more value on different ones, we might have different ideas about who’s really excelling.

Mike: Yeah, that’s very true. You have sports that require a lot of raw physicality, like American football.

There’s never going to be a comparison there for talking about just raw output. Cause when you have guys that have, you know, twice the muscle mass. Yeah, that just is what it is. But then you also have the whole technical dimension of sports, right? Like I remember I was reading some research on the most difficult athletic movements.

to perform. And number one was hitting a fast ball. And number two was a golf swing. And number three was a pole vaulting actually. And so the, the point is that I don’t know much about baseball and the, I’m sure men hit more home runs maybe than, than women. Cause again, that there’s a Roth just. Strength and power element to that, but there’s also that technical element of being able to hit a fastball and somebody who’s very good at that doesn’t necessarily need to be the strongest batter.

Golf certainly strength and power plays a role in the sport because length matters, but you have a lot of really good professional golfers who don’t crush the ball. I’m sure the average male PGA player hits it a bit further than the average female. but I would bet you that there are quite a few LPGA players.

I might be wrong, but I would think there are quite a few LPGA players that could compete with men. Maybe your average LPGA wouldn’t be able to beat the average PGA very often, but I think there’s probably a lot more parody there than in some other sports and pole vaulting. I know nothing about either, but I’ll bet you there are some very, very good female pole vaulters that can do.

Similar things to men. So that’s a good point. It’s just a matter of being able to appreciate what you’re seeing. And here in America, again, I’m not a, I’m not a big sports guy, but I’m guessing American football is the biggest it’s gotta be, right? I think that’s the makes the most money. I would think so.

Yeah, I think so. Yeah. So that’s the focus right now. Um, and I guess a lot of what drives that is the desire to see super freaks do super freaky things. And football is a good way to demonstrate that it’s a good sport for that. But as other sports continue to grow, the appreciation of what’s athleticism is can definitely change.

Haley: Yeah, definitely. And going back to your point about golf, I do talk about this in the book. Men do hit the ball faster and farther than women, but women are more accurate and they land on the fairway a higher percentage of the time in the LPGA than the PGA. So that’s, you know, is a big drive better than finesse.

Like, they’re just kind of two different things, and I think they’re two equally impressive skills.

Mike: Absolutely. Anybody who plays golf knows that. It’s nice to be able to hit it far, but it’s also nice to play from the fairway than playing from the shit half of the hole.

Haley: Yes, definitely.

Mike: Well, this was a great interview.

I really appreciate you taking the time to do this. And again, the book is Strong Like Her and people listening, you can get it anywhere. You can find books, which right now currently is just going to be online. Likely. I, and maybe there are some independent bookshops that are still open. Possibly.

Haley: Yeah, there are definitely Indy still fulfilling orders online and a lot of them are doing free shipping now.

So if you want to support your local Indy, it’s a good time to do that.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah, I agree. And yeah. So why don’t we just wrap up with where people can find you? Where’s the best place if they want to reach out? And if you have any other interesting projects or tidbits that you’d like to share, then let’s let everybody know.

Haley: Sure. I’m on Instagram mostly, and as well as Twitter at Haley Shapley. My website is Haley Shapley. com. You can learn more about me and my writing there. And there are tons of interesting tidbits in the book. I won’t spoil any of the rest for you, but there are also, I should mention. Portraits of modern day athletes in the book, 23 of them, they were shot by the amazing celebrity photographer, Sophie Holland, and they all represent a different sport.

They all share their story with me in the book as well, and kind of cover a different aspect of, of just women and strength. So I think there’s something relatable in there for everyone. Although it is a book about women, I’ve been getting great feedback from men who are reading it as well, because it’s really a book for anyone interested in history or interested in fitness.

So I think, you know, there’s a lot there and a lot of kind of fun facts that you can whip out when you’re at a trivia game or something. Cause there’s a lot of just interesting, uh,

Mike: When you’re at the dinner table. Did you know?

Haley: Did you know? You’re at a cocktail party and you’re like, are you aware of this?

Mike: Those will happen again, everybody. They will be back.

Haley: Oh my gosh. Yes. We don’t have any right now. They’re only virtual, but there’s civilization.

Mike: As we know, it’s always, it’s only on pause. This isn’t the end time.

Haley: And you can always have your virtual happy hour. So you can share the fun facts you’re learning there, but yeah.

Mike: I’m going to second that the book is, is beautiful. So it was the first thing that struck me as the production value, very. High quality pictures, high quality paper. It reminded me of a, like a coffee table book, something that is part showpiece and then part something you read.

Haley: It’s definitely a cross between the two because it’s an actual full length story with a beginning and a middle and an end, unlike most coffee table books, but it does have those beautiful photos and it is a really kind of giftable type of book.

So I feel extremely lucky that it’s kind of the best of both worlds in that way.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. Perfect gift book for anybody, like you said, who is into fitness, sports, the history of women’s achievements, women doing extraordinary things. I think that I was impressed. I was impressed with the whole project as a writer.

I can appreciate the work that goes into it. So, uh, great job. Thank you so much. I appreciate that. Yep. And thank you again for taking the time to do this and happy quarantining.

Haley: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Mike: All right. Well, that’s it for today’s episode. I hope you found it interesting and helpful, and if you did and you don’t mind doing me a favor, could you please leave a quick review for the podcast on iTunes or wherever you are listening from, because those reviews not only convince people that they should check out the show, they also increase the search visibility and help more people find their way to me and to the podcast and the podcast.

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