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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / WNBA players want equal pay, do they deserve it?

WNBA players want equal pay, do they deserve it?

Publish Date: 08/07/2022
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa
UNCASVILLE, CT - AUGUST 08: Seattle Storm Guard Sue Bird (10) and the Referee converse over a missed call during the game as the Connecticut Sun host the Seattle Storm on August 08, 2017 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. (Photo by Williams Paul/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Equal Pay

For years, WNBA players have felt that their salaries are unfair and that they should be paid more in line with their male counterparts in the NBA. Draymond Green, one of those high-paid male players, recently added some fuel to the flame by offering his opinion on the matter (in short, women shouldn’t complain). That was a little over a year ago; he is still right to this day.

It appears that women are in agreement — there is no comparison between WNBA and NBA revenues — but let’s first understand what WNBA players want. Kelsey Plum is a star player in WNBA. According to her, “I’m tired of people thinking (we) players are asking the same amount of money as NBA basketball players… we are asking the same percentage revenue share within our CBA. We receive 20% of the shared revenue in our CBA, while NBA players get around 50%.

What’s Our Take?

It doesn’t matter what; it’s hard to sell a league that cannot turn a profit but survives on handouts provided by the NBA. Higher subsidies from the benefactor mean a bigger cut for players. Is it impossible for the league to operate independently without such rewards? No, it’s really not. The USFL, in comparison, drew over 650k viewers, a game that’s over double what the women’s average game draws, and the USFL is struggling to make it. Until the NBA subsidized the WNBA twenty-five years ago every other attempt at a women’s pro basketball league had failed miserably. Why has it failed? That’s simply because people don’t want to watch women play basketball in the summer, hell nobody wants to watch women pro basketball at any point in the year.

Other than the fact that they both play the same sport, there is little between the NBA and WNBA that is the same.

Number Crunching:

The NBA is 75, and the WNBA is 25 years old, respectively. In building its brand and resolving labor issues, the WNBA is 50 years behind. WNBA players want the same things that NBA players have achieved over decades of negotiations.

The average attendance for the NBA is 17,760, and that of the WNBA is 6,535. The average TV viewership for the 2019 NBA Finals was 17,760, while that of the WNBA Finals was 6,535.

The WNBA has 12 teams, while the NBA has 30.

Some Mathematics:

The average price of a ticket in the NBA is reported to be between $51 and $89, while that of the WNBA is $17.

According to Sports Media Watch, NBA games average 2,000,000 TV viewers per game; WNBA games averaged 246,000 viewers in the 2019 regular season. We’ll not consider the 2020 season impacted due to the pandemic.

The NBA’s annual revenues total $7.92 billion. The WNBA’s are $60 million. This would not cover the combined salaries for NBA players Kevin Love and Damian Lillard. Revenues are not to be confused or misunderstood with profits.

How does it work out?

The WNBA is left short of funds due to all of this. Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, reports that the WNBA lost on average $10 million each year it has been around. This is even though the NBA subsidizes the WNBA out of political correctness. The WNBA is nothing more than a league that is operating with its hands out while losing the NBA millions of dollars per year. The WNBA is welfare as a league; they could never stand alone.

This leads us to this: The average NBA salary is approximately $7.5 million. The league said the average WNBA stipend in 2019 was about $116,000. However, a new collective bargaining arrangement, which runs from 2020-2027, provides a 53% increase in pay, plus maternity leave at full salary, $5,000 for child care, as well as as as as much as $60,000 to adopt, surrogacy, or fertility treatments. The CBA increases base salaries to $130,000, while elite players can make upwards of $500,000. Does that sound like a nad deal when you are working July-October?

The problem with the WNBA is that it doesn’t generate enough interest or revenue to support a pay structure comparable to the men’s league. Because the men’s league casts a huge shadow, the WNBA runs its season from July through October. For the average sports fan, the league is almost irrelevant. Diana Taurasi is known as the “Michael Jordan” of the WNBA. Have you heard of her name? If you did, it was from watching the UCONN women play in the NCAA Tournament, not because you saw her in the WNBA.

No one wants to admit that certain sports are better for women than for men. Women’s tennis is just as popular, if not more, than the men’s game. And women’s gymnastics is more popular than the male sport. According to NCAA, the average college basketball attendance was 1,625 Division I women and 5,650 Division I men.

What about other sports?

LPGA golfers also face this challenge. The PGA Tour and LPGA Tour prize cash are vastly different. The LPGA Tour doesn’t generate the same revenue or interest as the men’s game. Quick, name five LPGA players. Although it might not be fair, it is a fact.

It’s not helped that women’s sport came late to the game. Although it seems absurd now, 50 years ago, women’s high-school sports were virtually nonexistent. Before 1972, the Olympics did not allow women to run more than 800m. The 1,500-meter run was introduced to the program. Meanwhile, men competed in longer distances, including the steeplechase, 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters and marathon. The Olympics did not create a marathon for women until 1984.

It took decades to overcome this backward thinking, and women’s sports have been playing catch up ever since. The WNBA is in this situation in its quest for a better identity and a higher salary on the American sports scene. The problem is that the WNBA will never be a league that can stand independently; why is that so bad? The NBA stays woke and loses ten million annually supporting this league. I have no issue with the NBA doing this, it’s their money, not mine, and I think these highly talented women making money to play Pro basketball is awesome, but please don’t try to make me feel bad for not watching it. Watching is my choice, just like it’s the NBA’s job to keep the league afloat with their money. I just want every woman playing in the WNBA to shut up about more pay! If you want more pay, play better, so people want to watch.

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