The NBA is one of the biggest sports leagues on planet Earth. The league has been constantly growing ever since its start, and with super stars such as Bird, Magic, Jordan, and Lebron, the league has been on a constant upward trend for decades. These players get paid millions of dollars just to step on a court and play a game, and have fun. However, why don’t women get paid the same for doing the exact same thing?
People are constantly arguing about WNBA player’s payroll, and how they should be making more; however, have you ever looked into how much they really make? The WNBA was founded on April 24, 1996. The league was made so women could play basketball after college, professionally, and make a profit, while not needing to go overseas. It was simple; women could now play basketball at the professional level, just like men, in the U.S, and get paid for it. WNBA players now were able to play the game they love, and make a profit, done deal.
The average American household in 2019 makes somewhere in the mid $40,000’s. The lowest paid WNBA players in 2019 make approximately $50,000. Although WNBA players don’t make anywhere near as much NBA players; their salary is still a few thousand more than that of the average American household. Some argue that any professional players should be grateful that they get to play the game they love, and to be fair, they do make more money than the average American household. People slaving away at jobs 8 hours a day, contributing to society, somehow get paid less than people dribbling a ball up and down a court for 4 quarters.
Basketball does not at all help our well being in anyway. It does not heal the ill. It does not keep us safe from crime. I think you get my point. NBA players are constantly getting larger contracts, signing large Free Agent deals, and rejecting the offers that do not have enough M’s on them. Meanwhile, WNBA players are making mediocre amounts compared to them; however, still making more than people contributing to our well being. The average American household makes in the mid $40,000’s per year. If a single person can amass a larger salary than an entire average American household for playing the game you love, there is nothing to complain about.
Men and Women have never really been judged as equal. There has always been some type of discrimination, or segregation, whether it is a dress code, separate wages, voting rights, or even separate sports leagues. While the Men’s leagues are called the National Association or the Major League, Women’s leagues are called the Women’s National Association.
Women have wanted to play in the NBA for a long time, and I do not blame them. WNBA players are hard working athletes that work hard day in and day out, and, yet, I will admit, DeWanna Bonner, who is the most paid WNBA player, and who’s stats I collected for this article…I did not know of until researching; yet, off the top of my head right now, I know the most paid athlete in the NBA last season was Stephen Curry.
The WNBA gets no recognition, and no one wants to play in a league where people need to look up who the best player is. You play the game to get recognized. How do you think Lebron James got to be where he is now? He played so well in high school, people compared him to Michael Jordan. He got recognized, then drafted, now he is in the league, and has switched teams 3 times, how did he do that, the teams recognized him? Now people from everywhere on earth know who he is, just because he was recognized in high school. Now when you realize how important recognition is to a players career, you can see why they would want to play in the NBA. More endorsements, more nationally televised games, packed arenas, and more important, a bigger fanbase. All WNBA players want is to get their talent recognized by the world, so their career can flourish. They do not necessarily want fame, they just want their hard work and determination to be noticed. All they want is to be rightfully judged upon not just skill, rather their effort, grit, and the hours they spend day in and day out, working on their craft.
The NBA is a huge market, and arguably the biggest market in all of sports, yet the WNBA has only been around for about 20 years and is not as popular as its counterpart. The league’s salary does not even come close to that of the NBA. The NBA can easily pay its stars due to its large budget, while the WNBA struggles to amass a fraction of the league’s salary and can simply not afford to pay all its players millions of dollars a year every single year. Many WNBA players believe they should be paid just as much as NBA players, and it is not a bad argument. The lowest paid player in the NBA this season will make $898,310. The highest paid WNBA player this season is going to make a mere $127,500. The lowest paid NBA player earns over 7 times what the highest paid WNBA player, Dewanna Bonner earns.
I’m just going to let that settle in.
It does not make sense that the NBA’s lowest paid player, Isaiah Briscoe, who is putting up a stat line of 3.2 points per game, 0.9 rebounds, and 0.6 assists per, in 6.8 minutes per game, with a 0.1 win share, gets paid higher than the highest paid, and arguably one of the best players in the WNBA, who, this season, is putting up a stat line of 17.2 points per game, 7.6 assists, and 2.7 rebounds per in 32.9 minutes per game, with a 4.0 win share. Clearly one of them is the better player, and while the NBA player clearly has a smaller sample size, playing over 25 less minutes, there is a statistic in basketball to help give an equal sample size, and that is “per 36 minutes.” I can just simply divide 36 by 6.8. This gives me how many times I need to multiply Isaiah Briscoe’s stats by the number; I got is 5.29411764706. So, when I do the math, I get a statline of a whopping 16.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per 36 minutes. I do the same for Bonner, and find that her 32.9 minutes go into 36 minutes just 1.09422492401 times. She plays nearly 3 quarters a game! Already, her numbers in 32.9 minutes are greater than Briscoe’s in just over 90% of the time played; however I am still calculating her “per 36 minutes” stats for an equal sample size. Over a 36 minute time span, Bonner is putting up 18.8 points, 3 rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game. Clearly Bonner is putting up better numbers, and for that reason alone, WNBA players should get paid equal amounts, or at least not making 1/7 that of the person they are clearly better than in all categories of the game.
Last season, between ad revenue, tickets, television, and merchandise such as jerseys, the NBA made about 8 billion dollars, while the salary for the WNBA is about 60 million dollars. The WNBA’s lack of a payroll simply prevents it from paying its athletes millions of dollars a year. The average NBA team revenue is $1.9 billion, while the entire WNBA salary is only about 60 million dollars. There are 12 teams in the WNBA, and if the average NBA team makes about a fourth of the NBA’s salary, that would mean these teams would make about $15 million each. This is not 100% true, just because the average NBA team makes ¼ the league’s salary, and I cannot find the team data for the WNBA, I will just do that for the WNBA. Anyway, estimated or not, that is not a lot of money, and if players are getting paid 40 million a year in the NBA, that means some WNBA teams might not be able to afford to pay big NBA contracts. WNBA players may deserve to get paid more, or they may not, but their teams just simply cannot afford it.
Although WNBA players may not be recognized as athletically gifted as their counterpart, NBA players, they make up for that gap in hard work and determination. There is no way the worst of the worst of the NBA are better than the top notch talent of the WNBA. WNBA players may not necessarily deserve to get paid as much as NBA players do, and the league certainly cannot afford to, but they do truly deserve at least some type of pay raise.
photo credit: worldlygame.blogspot