By La’Nisha Richardson
Yazoo City, MISS.
Last Summer, LeBron James signed a four-year, $154 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. A’ja Wilson, a forward for the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces, responded to the news on Twitter: “154M… must.be.nice. We over here looking for a M but Lord, let me get back in my lane.”
Have you ever noticed that WNBA players don’t live in big mansions and ride in lavish cars like NBA players? The reason is that they can’t afford it. While 50 percent of NBA revenue goes to player salaries, WNBA players only receive an estimated 22 percent. The minimum starting salary in the NBA is nearly $600,000. In the WNBA: $50,000. Female basketball stars get paid much more overseas.
I’m a point guard on my high school team, which takes dedication and hard work. I can only imagine what it’s like for a WNBA player. I’m sure the top stars wonder why they’re spending so much time practicing to get paid so much less than an NBA benchwarmer.
To be sure, the NBA brings in more money than the WNBA. But the women put in the same amount of training, practice, travel, and time as the men, and should be compensated accordingly. Gender equality starts with income equality. Being a woman shouldn’t determine your pay rate.
WNBA players like Wilson and Skylar Diggins-Smith of the Dallas Wings have spoken out about the pay gap. But it feels like league officials haven’t heard them. They need to give players 50 percent of league revenue and find more marketing opportunities, such as sponsorships and commercials, for them. The league is trying to fix this, but it’s not moving fast enough, and it might take a strike to get equal pay.
And though the NBA’s Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook—as well as LeBron James—have attended games to show support, an NBA player shouldn’t have to show up to get people talking about the WNBA. This is sexism, plain and simple. Everyone should speak out.