by Josh Morgan
Graphic by Christy Knudson
Here is a question I have heard a lot from people in popular culture. Would you rather have $5 or your local WNBA team win a championship? The result of the question usually tends to be that most people can’t even name their local WNBA team.
Due to the league’s inferior popularity to the NBA, many argue that it makes sense that WNBA players make less money than NBA players. The average salary for a WNBA player is around $115,000 per player, while the NBA dwarfs that number at $7.7 million per player. Many people are going to justify that number by saying that the NBA accrues $8 billion of total revenue per season, while the WNBA falls far behind at $60 million per season.
However, the people who so quickly shun the idea that WNBA players should get paid higher are simply uneducated on the topic. The argument is not that WNBA players should make closer to the amount of money that NBA players make. The one thing that both sides of the argument agree on, even if they don’t realize it, is that NBA players and WNBA players both should make salaries that are proportional to the amount of revenue that the league brings in.
WNBA player Sue Bird sums it up pretty well: “Look, we’re not over here saying we should be paid the same as the men. We’re realistic. We understand that this is a business and that their revenue is insane compared to ours. But there is a bias that exists.”
So, should WNBA players make more money? What is that bias that Bird talks about? Well, out of that $8 billion per season that the NBA brings in, the NBA pays its players around 50%. The WNBA, on the other hand, is paying their players less than 25% of their $60 million dollar revenue.
There is only one problem. To understand the problem, we need to understand the difference between revenue and profit. There is a certain cost to running a basketball league, and since the NBA revenue is so high, they make tons of profit. However, the WNBA makes way less profit since a majority of their $60 million goes to running the league. Still, the bottom line is that regardless of whether or not it is realistic for WNBA players to make 50% of their league revenue, they should definitely be getting paid a higher share.
No one is arguing that WNBA players should make millions of dollars a year, at least until the league starts to make more money. However, WNBA players should be taking in a much fairer share of their league’s revenue.