Forgive me for this long winded sports double standard…but I love basketball. 🙂 I was in 4th grade when the Bulls won their first NBA title and a junior in high school for title number six. Before that, I wanted to be a soccer player. Seeing the Bulls win 3 straight as a young kid, then seeing them do it again as a teenager solidified my love for the game. I have been a loyal Bulls fan since then and I spend my time and money to watch them in the good and bad years. The only difference between then and now, I watch other teams as well. I just like basketball. When my daughter was born, I thought I’d get her to love it as well. As a baby and toddler, I had her watching games with me, when she got a bit older I took her to some NBA games too. Sensing that I was in a losing battle, I took her to a WNBA game, my assumption was that seeing women playing basketball would make her love it the same way I did. Unfortunately, I enjoyed the game way more than she did. Honestly, she didn’t care about the game at all. She preferred the halftime cheerleaders versus the WNBA ballers.
I want the best for the ladies in the WNBA because I love basketball. I do believe based on the work and effort they put in, they should get paid more. However, that won’t happen if they put pride in front of taking reasonable advice from the men on this. I know that’s cringe worthy for many women to read, but my point is to foster healthy collaboration instead of dismissive responses because it seems like a blow to ones pride or ego. I give my wife advice all the time, she usually takes it with a grain of salt and does whatever she wanted to do anyway. If any other person, homeless guy or random waitress, gives her that same advice, she takes it like the gospel. I get it, doesn’t make sense, but I get it.
Every other sport makes adjustments for men and women to address either the difference in athleticism and strength or physical size. In Women’s basketball, the adjustment is the size of the ball and distance to the rim for 3 pointers and fewer games. The 1 element that they didn’t adjust was the height of the rim. Just dropping the rim by 6 inches would increase the dunking ability of some women in the league, potentially bringing a bit more excitement and flash to the league. Shaq came forward and said, “the WNBA should lower the rims” which I thought “YES PLEASE” and the women in the league were pissed about it. I don’t think he ever backed down from his stance, but he hasn’t been very vocal about it since then either. So if the NBA and its legends are like the husband in this metaphor, and WNBA and their legends the wife…the NBA is too close to the situation for advice to be received well.
Real World Issues
In many sectors, males are paid at a higher rate for the same job and in the same company as their female counterparts. I think that is terrible and should be addressed better, however, sports is the worst example to hitch the equity wagon to. There has been a lot of talk about the pay gap between the NBA and the WNBA, especially since Britney Griner got locked up abroad for having a cannabis vape pen. She only played in Russia to earn more money because the WNBA doesn’t pay enough. I get it, gotta make ends meet, but at the same time, there’s a way to get more money in the WNBA…drop that rim down some. I’ve listened to far too many poorly thought out arguments of why the WNBA players should earn more, none of them ever addressed the obvious elephant in the room. Attendance is lower, the league is smaller, the media coverage is less than the NBA and the reason why is because my daughter isn’t the only one that finds it less entertaining. Pretty much every one finds it less entertaining, which is why no one is currently asking for more WNBA games.
Now, the double standard here is obvious. The players want equal treatment to the NBA players, pay at an equal rate despite not having nearly the same revenue. As a small business owner, I understand. I work my ass off doing a bit of everything for my 6 figure salary. I have a couple people on the team to help, but everything else falls on my business partner and I. Meanwhile, we know of CEO’s that make 20 times what we do, and they spend most of their time travelling and golfing. I mean, we’re all executives right? No! Those guys have multi-million dollar businesses, with revenue in the $40M to $50M ballpark per year. We are in the $6M per year range, clearly we can’t pay ourselves the same.
Applying Common Sense
Now, the double standard here is obvious. The players want equal treatment to the NBA players, pay at an equal rate
The WNBA and NBA are businesses that specialize in entertainment. In every other business, if an otherwise good product isn’t selling, it’s time to tinker with the formula. Let’s look at a tale of the tape:
|Average Ticket Price||$47||$94||2X|
The scales are tipped heavily in favor of the NBA players. There are other factors like merchandise, and concession that aren’t factored in, but it would serve to tip the scales even further in favor of the NBA. The biggest difference comes in viewership, which is amazingly important to note, because it is the reason for why the gap is not equitable.
Viewership obviously determines ad revenue. If I’m a large company and I want the most eyes on my product, I’m paying to put it where the most eyes are. So, if the cost of a spot for 379K viewers is $500K per ad, then equitably speaking the price for 12.4M viewers would be $16.3M Here’s the thing though, there are 18 more teams and 46 more regular season games each. That translates to 648 more chances to make 32.7X the ad revenue of the WNBA. Simply keeping the numbers clean on ad revenue, that translates to $216M generated by the WNBA in their season, whereas the NBA would generate a little north of $40B per season. The fact is, the numbers are not clean on ad revenue because the WNBA is competing with Soccer and Baseball which both have significantly higher viewership, whereas the NBA is competing with Hockey which has a lower viewership than basketball. That said, the bulk of the ad money is getting spent where the bulk of the eyes are.
All of this translates to, the women advocating for more pay are not being reasonable at all. To demand fairness may mean some of them would make less money than they currently do unfortunately. This is where ideas like lowering the rim begin to make more sense. Pro basketball is FAR MORE exciting than pro baseball, no matter who is playing it. However, the WNBA is rarely ever on the “athletic highlight” reels on ESPN or TNT. People watch for those highlight moments even in boring ass baseball. Dunks, almost always make the highlights, multiple 3 pointers, you bet. More action leads to more eyes, more eyes lead to more dollars, more dollars lead to higher salaries. This isn’t to say men are better, the game is just more exciting to watch. Until the WNBA accepts that people want to see action, not just female athletes, the pay gap will be rightfully huge.
Floss It Out
Sometimes it is uncomfortable to let someone know “yo, there’s something green in your teeth”. Doing so isn’t actually bad at all, it’s truly looking out for their best interests. Though the WNBA is the subject, this applies in general. I may have to do a battle of the sexes to really dive into it. For the sake of this particular double standard, I’m team society and team NBA. Advice on how to bring more revenue to the game has been given. Further complaints about a pay gap they aren’t willing to realistically fix means they would rather complain and live with the problem than realize a solution. When I say “yo, there’s something green in your teeth” if your response is, no it isn’t, my job is done, you can look crazy for the rest of your life for all I care.