Pay Gap Exists in Professional Sports for a Reason

Alec Lechner, Contributing Reporter

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We have all read about the gender pay gap between the WNBA and the NBA, and many have voiced their outrage that the highest paid player in the NBA, Steph Curry, is paid $34 million, according to Business Insider, while the highest paid player in the WNBA, Maya Moors, makes $100,000. Many have said this is a perfect example of the gender pay gap in the country. But is it?

In professional sports, men and women are paid differently, the statistics make this quite clear. Linn-Mar alumni Marcus Paige’s contract is worth $543,000 annually in comparison to Linn-Mar alumni Kiah Stokes, who makes between $50,000 to 100,000 annually. Why is there such a stark difference in the pay of players? Some say the pay gap is due to sexisim, while others argue that it is just business. The NBA generated over 7.4 billion dollars annually according to Forbes, compared to the WNBA’s 25-50 million dollars. There are several reasons why WNBA players earn less than NBA players.

For one, the NBA is 72 years old, whereas the WNBA is only 22 years old, thus the NBA is more prominent than the younger WNBA. When the NBA was just 22 years old (1968) the average pay for a player was $19,000 dollars annually, according to Forbes. Adjusted for inflation, the pay comes to $43,692 in today’s currency. In comparison, NBA players were once paid less in comparison to the WNBA today.

Another reason of why the WNBA is not growing as fast the NBA is because of the fast-paced action of the NBA competition. In 18 years, the WNBA’s total dunks totaled 11. That’s less than one dunk every season. In the 2014 season, NBA player JaVale Mcgee had 76 dunks alone. People paying admission to professional basketball games like to see dunks, making the NBA teams greater draws.

As the WNBA gets older and more fans join in cheering for their teams, the gross income will increase. As the pay gets better, more players will compete for higher contracts, prompting the WNBA incomes to increase, similar to the NBA. The advantage of the WNBA is that basketball is now an established sport in comparison to 1946.

While I do advocate for pay increases in womens’ sports, it needs to be adjusted on an annual basis. As profits increase, pay should increase accordingly. However, these decisions should be left to agents and the teams to ensure that the leagues keeps expanding their base. I do not believe the maximum salary should be 100,000 dollars for the top women in the league. I also do not believe that players should have major pay increases, because quite honestly, the WNBA does not generate enough profit to sustain every player getting paid half a million dollars every season.

There seems to be a pay gap among all sports, however. The highest paid MLB, NBA, and NFL players all made under 34 million dollars in 2017, even with the revenue differences in all the sports. The MLB generated 10 billion dollars, the NFL generated 8 billion dollars, and the NBA generated 7.5 billion. With the net income, some could argue that NBA players are overpaid while MLB players are underpaid. Where does the money go? To the owners. Why? Because it’s their business and their employees are content with their paychecks.

Right now, better contracts are a waiting game. The longer the WNBA is in business, the more fans they will gain. The more fans they have, the more money they will make, which will increase the pay of the players, as has happened with every other major sports league. If this does not happen, less talented women will play for the league, creating less competitive games, making fans lose interest, and like every other business, the league will fold.