The debut of the WNBA in 1997 was a dream come true for many American female basketball players. The league gave females a chance to compete against the best talent in the country, pursue a career as a professional athlete and fulfill a dream. However, eight years after, the league still lacks the funding to pay players top dollars.
According to insidehoops.com, the starting salary for rookies in the WNBA is $30,000 a season, about the same as a restaurant manager at McDonalds. In the NBA, the lowest rookie average salary for the 2005 season was about $700,000 that’s about 23 times the amount of the average salary of a WNBA rookie.
Top players in the WNBA like Sheryl Swoops, Tina Thompson and Lisa Leslie are each paid no more than $87,000 a season. While Kevin Garnett, Allen Iverson, and Shaq are each paid no less than $16 million a season.
I understand that the WNBA season is only four months, playing about 32 games a season, while the NBA season is much longer with 82 games a season, so yes, NBA players should get paid more. However, the average player in the NBA makes about $2 million a season for 82 games, so if they only played 34 games (the length of the WNBA season) they would get paid about $400,000.
The WNBA defends the low salaries of its players by claiming the league is still in its developing stages and funding is very low. The league says that it needs more fans, viewers and advertisements. These are the things that bring money into the organization and can increase salaries for both players and coaches. The NBA brings an average of 17,000 fans a game; the difference of 7,000 fans is one of the reasons why the WNBA’s salary is lower.
Since the WNBA doesn’t compensate players enough to live comfortably, players choose to play overseas to subsidize their income. More than 60 players are going to play overseas in the off-season.
“I will be going back to Russia again this off-season,” Seattle Storm star guard Sue Bird said.
Women have evolved from the traditional housewife role. We are boxers, engineers and basketball players. It’s unfortunate that we are able to do the same jobs as a man but still aren’t paid equally. It’s time for professional athletics and corporate America to recognize a woman’s worth.
Quidara Russell is a senior broadcast journalism student from Rahway, NJ. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org