Why is there still a pay gap in NBA vs. WNBA??

With the recent detainment in Russia of WNBA player, Britney Griner, making national headlines, it’s brought to light many issues of inequality in sports- gender pay gap being one. Nine years. The harshness of her sentence, and the reason she was even in Russia to begin with are what really affected me. Russia and the US have a rocky relationship to say the least, so I wasn’t surprised to hear this news, unfortunately, but I was furious. The financial incentive for women to play basketball in Russia during their off season – close to $1 million – is why 70 WNBA players choose to travel there. Russia actually pays their female athletes a fair wage, and if they got paid like that here in the states, maybe we wouldn’t see these players traveling across the world to play basketball. 

The arrest of Griner has started an argument about the gender pay gap everywhere, specifically the WNBA in comparison to the NBA. WNBA players make a very small fraction of what men do in the NBA. The maximum salary in 2022 for WNBA players is $228,094, while the minimum salary of NBA players is over $1 million dollars. This gap in pay has enraged feminists for a long time with no real change being placed into effect, bu the time for change is now. 

Some argue that the WNBA doesn’t generate as much revenue as the NBA and that’s why this pay gap exists and is completely rational to them. While this is true, there are other factors that prove the pay gap is still much larger than how much revenue they accumulate as a business. 

NBA players receive 50% of NBA league revenue, while WNBA players receive only 20% of WNBA league revenue. This fact alone proves that as women, we are at a 30% disadvantage at least if we enter the professional basketball world. 

Photo by Logan Manuel on Pexels.com

With the NBA having earned revenue of over $100 Billion, it gives a fraction — $10 to $15 million — annually to fund the WNBA. Just because the WNBA produces less revenue, – no one is arguing that it doesn’t – does not mean they cannot get the same share as the NBA does of total league revenue, especially considering they have more than enough funds to make this change. Even if this change did go into effect, women would still be getting fractions of what NBA players do. 

The highest paid NBA players, such as people like Steph Curry and Lebron James, are vital components for actual change to be put in place. When respected players such as them speak out, it gets the public to listen and in turn help them in their pursuit of change. Steph Curry spoke out in a writing titled, “This is Personal,” exclaiming he wants his daughters to be paid equally. Curry wrote, “I think it’s important that we all come together to figure out how we can make [equal pay] possible, as soon as possible,” in the Undefeated Athlete of the Week. “And not just on Women’s Equality Day. Every day — that’s when we need to be working to close the pay gap in this country. Because every day is when the pay gap is affecting women. And every day is when the pay gap is sending the wrong message to women about who they are, and how they’re valued, and what they can or cannot become.”

Curry speaking out about the gender pay gap affecting women in all aspects of their life was exactly right. Compared to men, women make around $.80 for every dollar men make. Do we want our children growing up in a world where they are treated unfairly? No. This is a feminist issue. It needs our immediate attention to make a real change, and soon. Coming together as one is the only way closing the pay gap in the United States is going to occur. 

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