In his latest as a contributor to Forbes, David Berri writes about #SportsMoney by way of professional basketball player salaries.
For those familiar with WNBA salaries, or the salaries (or lack thereof) of any female athlete, there is an evident wage gap. What Berri articulates in his piece is that the gap is not only in dollar for dollar pay, but also the allocation of revenue to players in the NBA versus the WNBA. He writes:
“According to a Forbes analysis, the NBA’s teams generated $5.9 billion in revenue in 2015-16. Similar analysis doesn’t seem to exist for the WNBA, but we do know its revenue is far lower. Therefore, it is not surprising the WNBA pays lower salaries.
That being said, the WNBA players are not being treated the same as their counterparts in the NBA. The NBA pays its players about 50% of league revenue. It appears, when we look at what we know about WNBA revenue and salaries, that the league’s players are receiving less than 25% of the revenue. And that percentage appears to be shrinking over time. In other words, a significant gender wage gap exists in professional basketball — and it is growing.”
Berri crunches some numbers using the best available data from each league to discern by how much Sylvia Fowles (2017 WNBA MVP) and others are underpaid, based on revenue allocation. The figures are startling, though the concept is sadly not.
However, the focus on (in)equity is most telling of the current wage gap. I have never been one to sacrifice equality for equity. Berri does a good job of showing why the latter also matters.
Equal pay for athletes feeds directly into the fact that revenue is not, equal that is ( I will set aside the conversation about venue capacity, marketing and promotion). What Berri exposes is, even the piece of the proverbial pie is less for women in society.
Be it by dollars or percentage, women are expected to do more with less.