North Texas Daily

Column: The wage gap between male and female athletes

Column: The wage gap between male and female athletes

Column: The wage gap between male and female athletes
September 14
12:00 2018

Diana Taurasi. Sue Bird. Candance Parker. Those women are superstars in the WNBA, but the casual sports fan has probably never heard of them.

The WNBA hardly gets any top-end coverage. Sure, ESPN will broadcast some games, but the overall coverage is subpar. On the other hand, every NBA team gets multiple primetime games throughout the season. Yes, that includes the woeful Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns.

Look at UNT: The football team has always received more attention despite its poor performance in the past, but the soccer team has been dominant since its foundation and receives much less attention. Since the start of the 2016 season, the soccer team is 20-2-3 at home. That’s a phenomenal record, but the average fan does not get to see these games. It’s a shame this happens, but we all know football is king here in Texas.

On a more national level, broadcasting corporations, such as ESPN and Fox Sports, have attempted to generate more interest in women’s basketball by airing games and advertisements, but the general public has not responded in a positive way.

According to Sports Media Watch, Game 1 of the 2016 WNBA Finals received ratings of 0.5 (597,000 viewers), which was the highest since 2010. Game 1 of the 2016 NBA Finals received ratings of 11.1 (19,200,000 viewers). The interest just isn’t there.

In an interview for Wealthsimple, Skylar Diggins-Smith of the Dallas Wings pointed out that she makes far less than some of her male counterparts. Diggins-Smith threw shade at Dallas Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes.

“I’m the highest paid player on the Dallas Wings, and my salary is in the low six figures,” Diggins-Smith said. “[Barnes is] definitely younger than me. Do you know his stats? Was he an All-Star? I mean, it doesn’t matter. But last year, I was First Team All-WNBA, which only goes to five players. I was also a WNBA All-Star for the third time.”

According to Spotrac, Barnes makes nearly $24 million a year while Diggins-Smith barely cracks $100,000. Diggins-Smith has a more impressive record than Barnes does, as she has been named to the All-WNBA team twice, WNBA All-Star and All-Rookie team.

Diggins-Smith sure looks like the better player based on her resume, but there’s one thing she’s clearly missing. The NBA raked in $7.4 billion in revenue last year according to Forbes, while the WNBA’s revenue does not even crack $100 million.

If the NBA is bringing in more money, then the owners have more money to pay their players. That’s how it is. The WNBA doesn’t bring in the money like the NBA, so their owners do not have the funds necessary to pay the women what their actual value would be.

If the WNBA was able to generate more revenue, then we would see Taurasi making more than an average lawyer or real estate agent. If the WNBA sold more advertisements, Bird would get paid what she deserves. If the WNBA sold more tickets, Parker would get paid what she deserves.

Barnes has the luxury of playing in the NBA, where owner Mark Cuban generates more revenue than the entire WNBA. Diggins-Smith has the luxury of being one of the best in her sport. It’s a shame Diggins-Smith does not make more money based on her ability as a basketball player, but that’s an issue she should take up with her league and its owner, and not shame Barnes.

The WNBA needs to do a better job of generating revenue so the players and owners can have more money.

Until that happens, the best players in the WNBA won’t make nearly as much as their male counterparts.

Featured Image: North Texas sophomore guard Adrianna Henderson looks for a pass in an exhibition match against Texas Woman’s University on Nov. 4. North Texas defeated TWU 69-66. Sara Carpenter

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Dillon Swan

Dillon Swan

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