Opinion: WNBA drops the ball on bridging the gender pay gap


The staggering gap between the salaries of female sports stars and their male counterparts is best exemplified by the maximum salary for a WNBA player, which is $111,500, compared to the minimum salary for an NBA player, which is $525,093. (Markus Spiske / Pexels)

The pay gap is a real mind-bending, jaw-dropping, heart-stopping problem in the world of sports today. Although the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) is not as popular in mainstream sports, its players still deserve to receive the same pay as their male counterparts.

WNBA players earn only 20 percent of the average National Basketball Association (NBA) player’s salary. Some argue that since women’s basketball doesn’t garner the same amount of revenue, the pay disparity is reasonable. However, these women are putting in the same hours and the same work ethic; they deserve to earn more than $50,000 a year. 

In 2017, WNBA stars who won various awards were still paid significantly less than NBA participants. Minnesota Lynx’s Sylvia Fowles was paid $109,000 for a season where she “finished second in rebounding per game, tied for second in blocks per game and ranked fifth in points per game,” according to Forbes. Meanwhile, Leandro Barbosa was paid $500,000 for simply being on the Phoenix Suns team; Barbosa never played since he was waived by the team at the start of the season. On the other hand, Fowles dedicated her time to intense training to improve her team’s scores, but her only fault was being a woman. 

On average, a professional NBA player can make $6.5 million a year, whereas female players can at the most make $110,000 per season. With this disparity, many women players go overseas for “more pay for more play.” However, if they play for both leagues, they then must play year round, leaving no time for rest.

Even NBA referees make more than female athletes with salaries starting at $150,000. Not only are the women of the WNBA significantly underpaid, they are treated as inferior by the organization as a whole. The NBA pays its players 50 percent of the total revenue acquired throughout the season; WNBA athletes receive less than 25 percent.

There needs to be equal pay for these women that devote just as much of their lives to the sport as NBA players do. The women’s movement and the #metoo movement may have caused awareness for the gender wage gap but there is still a ways to go, and professional sports is a great way to start.

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