WNBA Salary Gap
In the 2017 WNBA season, Sylvia Fowles led the Minnesota Lynx to their fourth WNBA championship. She also won the Finals MVP and the regular season MVP. Sylvia Fowles is the “Drake” of the WNBA. That's how good she is. Sylvia Fowles got paid $109,000 for all she did in the 2017 season. Sounds like a lot right?
Well compared to Russell Westbrook, who earned 28.53 million dollars in 2017 from the Oklahoma City Thunder in the regular season, Sylvia Fowles did not earn nearly as much money for all her achievements that year. The only reason she didn't earn as much was that she plays in the WNBA and not the NBA. Sylvia Fowles is not the only WNBA player getting a lot less money than NBA players. Almost every player in the league is getting millions of dollars less than NBA players.
Why Wages Are So Different
The amounts of revenue the different leagues get are very different from the other. The NBA got $7.4 billion in the 2017-2018 season. The WNBA only earned about $51.5 million in the 2017 season. Yes, the WNBA has a lot fewer players than the NBA but the ratios of players to revenue still aren't even.
The revenue is still only part of it though. In the NBA, players get about 50% of the league's revenue. In 2017, the WNBA players only got about 22.8% of the league's revenue.
If the WNBA paid 50% of its revenue to the players the salary average would not be anywhere close to $75,000. In the WNBA the average salary would be about $164,000 if they were paid 50% of revenue. Even though this is still a lot less money the WNBA players would get than the NBA players it is still a big improvement because the WNBA can't pay their players as much money until they earn as much money.
What The WNBA Needs To Do To Improve Wages
“54M…must be nice. We over here looking for an M but Lord, let me get back in my lane.”
This tweet was sent by A'ja Wilson, a star rookie in the WNBA, on Lebron James's new contract with the Lakers. Wilson who was the number one pick in the 2018 WNBA draft earned $52,564 in her rookie season. Compared to her NBA counterpart Deandre Ayton, the number one pick in the 2017-2018 NBA draft, who earned $6.8 million playing for the Phoenix Suns in his rookie season. A'ja Wilson is not the only person trying to increase the wages. Many other players and coaches are trying to help increase the wage. Even the WNBA President, Lisa Borders, is trying to help.
The WNBA needs to increase the merchandise sales. Nike already put authentic jerseys up for sale on the website, but they need to spread more merchandise to more stores. They also need to have more merchandise available in stores so people can access the merchandise easier. That way the WNBA will get more money from merchandise sales. The WNBA also needs to work with the players to create more profitable revenue opportunities.
League wide events and marketing campaigns will most likely help increase the league's revenue. This year's new All Star Game format helped increase the fans interest which brought in more money. In the new All Star Game format, the fans got to vote on which players they wanted to participate in the game. The two players who got the highest overall votes got to pick teams from other players who got the next highest votes. This built up a lot of suspense of who would get picked when and what team they would be on.
Another factor that increases the amount of tickets sold is the location of big events. The 2018 All Star Game was held at Target Center in Minneapolis, which is home of the Minnesota Lynx. The Lynx are one of only two teams who have won four championships. There is also a lot of other attractions in Minnesota like Mall of America. This will most likely increase the amount of fans that get tickets to the All Star Game. In 2018, there was the most amount of fans at a WNBA All Star Game since 2007.To keep ticket sales high the WNBA needs to keep picking exciting locations that are as exciting for fans as Disney World is for little kids.
All the factors are important to increasing player wages, but one of the most important is the fans actually buying the merchandise and the tickets. Even if the WNBA does all the things they need to do to get more revenue, they still won't have enough money if the fans don't help too. The fans need to interact with their wallets to help the player wages, not just sit back and except things to happen.
...(download the rest of the essay above)