Standing Up for the WNBA

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The Wage-Gender Gap in Professional Basketball

A topic uncomfortable for some and ignored by many, the Wage-Gender Gap between the NBA and WNBA is astonishing. It’s gained impetus these days after reigning WNBA MVP Brianna Stewart suffered a serious injury while playing overseas in the Women’s Euroleague.

Why is the MVP of the WNBA playing professional basketball overseas, you may be asking yourself? It’s not like LeBron or Giannis or James Harden play non-international professional basketball during the off-season.

Well the reason revolves wages. Stewart only makes around $45,000 a year in the WNBA, hardly enough to make a living. Thus, she like many other WNBA players, goes overseas to make some extra money.

On average, an NBA player’s salary is 5.5 million while in the WNBA the average is $72, 000 (for seasoned veterans). The minimum salary in the NBA is $507, 336, while the minimum in the WNBA is $35,000. Yes, $35,000! I mean, slightly lower than that and you are approaching the poverty line.

Many have spoken out and demanded change, but the fact remains that not much progress has been made. Last year, Jalen Rose voiced his frustration, saying that “I just would like to see WNBA players get that same opportunity as NBA players, and it is head scratching to me that it hasn’t taken place yet,” he said.

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Last year, the WNBA first overall pick in the 2018 draft, A’ja Wilson opened some eyes with her posts on social media. Commenting on LeBron James contract, she said, “154 mil….must be nice. We’re over here looking for 1 mil. But lord, let me get back in my lane.”

The response to Wilson was devastating. She received a lot of unwarranted criticism including from Clay Travis of Fox Sports who tweeted back, “A WNBA player asked why LeBron & other NBA players made so much more money than they did. Here’s your answer: the entre WNBA made $25 million in revenue last year. The NBA made $7.4 billion.”

No one is going to argue that the WNBA can compete with the NBA or that the on-court product and interest is the same, but surely these women deserve more. At the very minimum, they shouldn’t have to go overseas to play additional basketball so that they could make enough to live a comfortable life.

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