WNBA renegotiated contracts

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Photo by Sidney MacDonald

Low salaries and limited maternity benefits have been two contentious subjects surrounding women’s professional sports.

But in the upcoming year, this will all be changing. On Jan. 14, a tentative contract was announced for 2020 stating that WNBA players will be earning an average of $130,000 a year, with the top players earning up to $500,000. Players will also be receiving full salaries while on maternity leave and will receive increased travel benefits.

The average WNBA player will be earning six figures for the first time.

Before this negotiation, the average salary was $71 635. Comparatively, the average salary for an NBA player is $7.7 million.

This is a huge step considering the fact that prior to this negotiation, the top players were earning a maximum of $117,500.

Even Candace Parker, who is arguably the best player in the WNBA and has broken records for both men’s and women’s basketball, wasn’t earning any higher than this.

It’s clear that this contract negotiation is the first step towards equal wages for female athletes.

Prior to the new contract, many WNBA players were unable to fully support themselves and their families with their salaries. They often turned to playing basketball overseas during the off-seasons, or would search for alternative means of income.

This negotiation will allow these women to create a full-fledged career in the WNBA, rather than having to look for other sources of income

Many will probably remember the women’s soccer pay equity debate, wherein the U.S women’s team was reported to have earned less than a third of what the men’s team was earning, even though they have four World Cup wins and, in 2017, had the most-watched soccer match in U.S history.

Recently, all 28 players on the USA women’s team filed a lawsuit against the U.S Soccer Federation on the grounds of unequal pay.

The new WNBA contract is bound to pave the way for, and open up conversations surrounding, women’s pay in sports.

Despite this victory for equal pay, it’s worth considering the financial loss that the NBA operates in each year caused by low viewer interest for the WNBA. It is reported that the NBA loses $10 million a year on average by operating the WNBA, which was founded in 1996.

It’s also worth addressing the fact that the pay raise has the potential to cause an even higher loss of revenue for the NBA.

But the NBA is a multi-billion dollar industry, with each men’s team worth an average of $1.9 billion. I’m more than positive that they can spare some of their finances to raise the wages for female players.

And now that WNBA players will be paid better wages, the league will most definitely be receiving positive press, good morale and possibly, higher television ratings.

It pays to pay your employees better wages — the increased income that WNBA players will be receiving will likely compensate for the player burnout that the league experienced in 2017 caused by an overly-crammed schedule, where many teams were forfeiting or arriving extremely late for games.

Most importantly, this new contract has the potential to attract more young and talented female basketball players to the WNBA now that they can expect higher wages.

In the upcoming season it will be clear that the WNBA has made both a strategic decision on behalf of the league, and an ethical decision on behalf of the women’s pay equity movement, by negotiating this new contract.

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