I’ve had the opportunity to watch a countless amount of Division 1 sports games throughout my time at St. Bonaventure University. The men’s basketball team, the most supported D1 team, regularly has full attendance at their home games from the student body as well as the community. On the other hand, the women’s basketball team struggles with attendance at any of their games. They lack the support from the student body and community that the men’s team receives.
Now, with March Madness quickly approaching, it’s time to get excited about watching our favorite teams play and compete for titles. How players perform usually plays a part in determining whether they will move on to professional leagues, like the NBA and WNBA. Even in these leagues, there is clear lack of support for the women’s teams compared to the men’s.
March is also Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate all the women who have helped change history for the better. These two occasions are the perfect excuse to talk about pay disparities in professional basketball leagues and what needs to change.
According to Wisconsin Sports Network, in 2018, the average salary of an NBA player was $6.4 million. The average salary for a WNBA player was $71,635. The highest paid player in the NBA in 2018, Stephen Curry, made $40 million dollars while the highest paid WNBA player, Brittney Griner, made only $113,500.
The most common reasoning for this immense gap in pay is that the WNBA receives less media coverage and therefore generates less revenue. In 2018, the NBA generated around $7.4 billion in revenue while the WNBA was estimated to generate around $60 million dollars in revenue, according to WSN.
The issue isn’t the fact that WNBA players are paid less than NBA players. It makes sense that since the WNBA generates less revenue, the players wouldn’t be making as much. While I think the lack of support and coverage of women’s sports is a problem, the issue in pay is that WNBA players don’t receive as high of a percentage of league revenue as NBA players do.
NBA players are guaranteed at least 53% of league revenue. WNBA players on the other hand only see about 20% of league revenue, according to WSN.
This year, under a new collective bargaining agreement, WNBA players will see a 53% increase in total compensation, according to CNBC. Because of this agreement, top players in the WNBA will see a salary of more than $500,000 for the first time.
This is a step in the right direction, but the battle for equal pay rates in women’s sports continues and stretches among all professional sports. March is a time for basketball, but it’s also a time for women. While you’re enjoying March Madness, be sure to keep in mind the women play just as hard as the men.
And don't forget that those women who go on to the pros are likely to get significantly less pay and support than the men.
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