A Breakdown Of The Gender Pay Gap In The WNBA And NBA
July 11, 2022 at 12:13 pm
We can’t talk about Brittney Griner without talking about the gender pay gap in sports.
The Russian detainment of WNBA Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner has made national headlines since she was taken into custody back in February. The WNBA superstar and 2x Olympic gold medalist was detained in Russia after customs allegedly found vape cartridges containing hash oil in her luggage. If convicted, the basketball star could face up to 10 years in prison.
Griner’s plight has taken many turns over the course of a few months, with the latest developments surrounding her guilty plea and President Joe Biden assuring her return. There has been an outpouring of support for Griner from fans and fellow athletes all hoping the WNBA star makes it back home soon and in good health. But what many may be wondering is what would compel an openly gay, Black American woman to go to a country that is known for not being especially tolerant of those identities. The answer: she was traveling there because she plays for a Russian team during the U.S. off-season, which many WNBA players do to supplement their incomes.
As such, the gender pay gap in sports cannot be denied.
“The reality is, she’s over there because of a gender issue — pay inequity,” said Nneka Ogwumike, the head of the WNBA players union, in an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America.
“We go over there to supplement our incomes, and quite frankly, we go over there to maintain our game,” she said.
Karen Attiah, a columnist for The Washington Post, tweeted that Griner has played in Russia for the last seven years, “earning over $1 million per season — more than quadruple her WNBA salary.”
While public perception of professional basketball players is that they’re well-off multi-millionaires, the reality is that for the women’s professional league the pay is significantly modest. Griner’s ordeal has started to reopen the conversation around the gross pay disparity in women’s basketball.
Here’s a breakdown of the WNBA-NBA gender pay gap.