WNBA set its average salary for the 2020 season at around $120,648 which is glaringly lower than the NBA pay, yet it is a raise than the conditions before. So let’s see the evolution of the WNBA pay in 2021
Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird are some of the top paid players of the WNBA sourcing an average earning of over $200,000. The NBA counterparts whereas are able to earn $45 million, as is the case for Stephen Curry, the highest-paid NBA player today. In 2016 Taurasi did earn around a million USDs playing offseason in Russia. Even in 2019, the average pay of an NBA player was at $74,349, compared to which the $120,648 is quite a raise. However, this pay disparity between male and female players remains a consistent issue not just with basketball or even just in the United States, but for women athletes all around the world.
Although the average WNBA salary can be considered a decent wage for a general US resident, it is definitely not enough for nationally and internationally recognized star athletes.
The Top Paid Players of 2021
In 2021, seven players are being paid an average annual salary of $221,450. These include DeWanna Bonner of the Connecticut Suns, Skylar Diggins Smith, Brittney Griner, Diana Taurasi of Phoenix Mercury, Liz Cambage of Las Vegas Aces, Sue Bird of Seattle Storm, and Elena Delle Donne of Washington Mystics. The top ten, adds Natasha Howard, Alyssa Thomas, and Courtney Vandersloot to the list, with the average annual pays of $215,000 and $200,000 consecutively. Jillian Alleyne being the lowest-paid player of the Minnesota Lynx at $3245.
The maximum pay at the Women’s National Basketball Association doesn’t even match up with the minimum pay of an NBA player which is over $900,000.
The Growth Since 2000s to 2021
The Women’s Basketball Association had its first season in 1997 after being set up in 1996 by David Stern. This is one of the oldest women athlete associations in the United States. There are twelve teams in total. The fight for higher pay has remained a constant struggle for the players since then, which hasn’t ended yet.
Being a WNBA player is not an easy job and is quite an elite position to be able to get in. There’s extremely tough competition, thus it is natural to say the players aren’t compensated at par with the value they offer.
However, there is growth and constant attempts at change are made. The highest salary in the 2000s was earned by Cynthia Cooper which was $75,798. While the NBA players continued to gather around $40 million, the WNBA players struggled to earn a salary of $25,000 an entire season.
Players have been protesting and refusing to sign off with the WNBA teams and rightfully so. Being Olympic champions and having other such high achievements, there were hardly any rights protecting the WNBA player pay in the 2000s. It is indeed better now and there have been improved terms and conditions not only in salaries but holidays, taxes and more.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement passed in 2020 gets the WNBA players a 53% increase in total compensation, paid maternity leave, fertility benefit. Newer terms that run till 2027 have allowed WNBA players to source higher earnings than ever before.
The 23-year-old organization still has long strides to make to pay the players as deserved, but it is also at the most optimum state than it has been. So we can only hope for it to be better and the pay gap to minimize further in future.
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