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Unequal Work for Equal Pay

Basketball Unequal Pay Money Backboard

There are ten seconds left on the clock, it’s the fourth quarter of a playoff berth game between Chicago and Phoenix. Chicago’s ball, and the coach decides to run a play through the star rookie. The ball is in play, the rookie has it. The Phoenix defender is face guarding being as pesky as can be, but the rookie does a step through spin move throwing off the defender. A hop on one foot and an off-balanced shot later, Chicago wins the game by two points and the world is in awe of what they just witnessed. A truly magnificent display of athleticism and game play. This will live on for years to come in highlight reels and top 10 plays lists.

At this point, you’re probably scratching your head trying to remember such a game between the Bulls and the Suns. Who’s the rookie I am talking about? It could be Michael Jordan, he definitely would have had the skills described, but there is no such highlight reel of this, and no one remembers. Well, here’s the kicker, you’re thinking the correct sport, but the wrong sex. I’m talking about the Chicago Sky and Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA! And the rookie was none other than Elena Delle-Donne.

Now before you start to mock what you just read, just know this is not a post about whether or not the women are as good as the men in basketball. I’m simply wanting to showcase how hard women athletes work and showcase their skills and yet only get paid a fraction of what the men do. In fact, in most cases women work even harder than men do, put more pressure on their bodies, and make a larger impact on society, so therefore they deserve at least equal pay for their unequal amount of work.

Equal Pay Women's Basketball WNBA Athletes

The amount of work women athletes do in order to make a living doesn’t even compare to how little the men have to do. The average season for NFL football lasts from September through December, one game a week, seventeen games total not including postseason. The NBA lasts from October through April with eighty-two games. The MLB season is the closest to what the women endure lasting from March through October, with 162 games. I know, that’s hard to believe right? I mean the WNBA season is just the summertime with thirty-four games. So what am I talking about? How do I make my claim that women work harder? It’s pretty simple actually: while the WNBA season is indeed only thirty-four games, that’s not including Euroleague play, or the league in Turkey, China, or even Australia, who’s seasons happen during America’s football and basketball seasons.

Yes, once the WNBA season is over, the women then go to play overseas. Why? To make a living at what they do. Brittney Griner, star center for the Phoenix Mercury, began her career in the WNBA witih the regular rookie contract of $41,000, barely enough to live on. However, during the “offseason” she went over to China, where they paid her around $600,000 to play for them. She put her body through hell playing year round and made a mere $641,000 her rookie year as opposed to someone like Trae Young who made $11,629,440 this past year as a rookie only playing 82 games and didn’t have to travel overseas and play all year to do it. So not only do women do more work, they put more pressure on their bodies and make 5% of what the men make. But playing basketball isn’t the only thing these women do, they make huge impacts on society.

What these women do for society is arguably more than what the men do. I’m not talking about quantity, more quality. If we are to be a society where everyone has equal opportunity to succeed and “live the American dream,” then the women athletes of the WNBA, USA Women’s Soccer Team, and professional female athletes in other sports, create more opportunities than the men do. Going back to Brittney Griner, one of the reasons she is so popular an athlete and well-known is not just for her ability to play the game of basketball but also because she was the first openly gay professional athlete. She even wrote a book on it. Finally giving voice to the marginalized, the outsiders, and the queer. Serena Williams is arguably the most known name in professional tennis. If you follow her on instagram, you see her passion as a player, a mother, and an advocate of charities across the board.

Most of the women athletes have some charity they have cofounded. Skylar Diggins-Smith has her basketball camp for girls, and boys. She takes time to teach them her skills and to engage with the youth on that one-on-one level encouraging success to our children. Tina Charles, star player for the New York Liberty, works with underserved youth and families to bring in more services for those who could normally not afford them. These are just a few examples of what so many of the women in professional sports do to impact community and inspire future generations by physically going into the community of their own volition.

NBA refs make more than a WNBA player and the 12th man on a NBA team makes more than a WHOLE WNBA team - Elizabeth Cambage

So yes, women work an unequal amount to men in sports, and only get paid 5% in comparison. How is that right? These women put their bodies through hell, often having to retire earlier than men do, but the impression they make on their fans and their communities is long-lasting. So yes, women athletes should be paid more so they don’t have to work all year long, which will allow their bodies to rest, and they can then bring in more resources on their side projects in their communities.


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