Nobody Cares About the WNBA

Every year, at least one notable WNBA player lets us know that she is unhappy with her pay because LeBron James, Stephen Curry, or Russell Westbrook pulls in a lot more. They say this without even paying lip service to the fact that these men are some of the greatest athletes who have ever walked this earth, and that the WNBA loses money every year.

Adam Silver told AP News in regards to the WNBA’s revenue that “on average (we’ve lost) over $10 million every year we’ve operated.”

Currently, the WNBA player’s union is trying to restructure their collective bargaining agreement with the WNBA. This is spearheaded by two sisters who could’ve been mistaken for the twin towers pre-9/11. Nneka Ogwumike, the president, and Chiney Ogwumike, the VP, consistently say that they are not given all the facts of the league’s revenue/profit nor can they speak on them in public. They say this is because of some nebulous confidentiality agreement.

When the interim WNBA president Mark Tatum was consulted about the current CBA, he was much more transparent than the Ogwumikes. “The league has sustained incredible losses since the inception 22 years ago.” He continued, “including a $12 million loss just last season, but those are investments that the NBA is making.” Ay, there’s the rub. The NBA owns 70 percent of the WNBA and is so profitable that it can afford to eat the losses in order to cram their female counterparts down our throats.

Furthermore, Mark Tatum said directly to the interviewer multiple times that the player’s union has access to all of the WNBA’s financials and no such confidentiality agreement exists. The most disappointing aspect of all is that I can learn why WNBA players make so much less than NBA players with 10 minutes of research, but the two women who are in charge of the WNBA player’s union cannot do basic arithmetic.

The twin towers are either outright lying or stupid enough to believe that millions of people will go out of their way to watch the WNBA.

THE NUMBERS

Since 2010, the NBA Finals has averaged 18.18 million viewers per game with 2017 as the peak, 20.38 million viewers. In 2016, the WNBA Finals Game 1 on ABC had the highest viewership since 2010, a whopping 597,000 viewers. The most viewed game for the NBA Finals in the same time period, Game 7 of Cleveland v. Golden State in 2016, generated 31.02 million viewers, or 5,096 percent more eyes than Game 1 of the 2016 WNBA Finals.

For more contrast, the Men’s 2018 NCAA Final Four games, Loyola (IL) vs. Michigan and Kansas vs. Villanova brought in an average viewership of 13.4 million viewers. These players were not directly paid a dime for the draw they generated.

The NBA can pay the salaries it does because it brings in the money that it does. The average NBA team accumulates $246 million in revenue while the WNBA revenue for the entire league is estimated at $60 million. The NBA averaged 17,987 attendees per game over the 82 games of the 2017-18 season while the WNBA averaged 6,712 per game over the 34 games of the 2018 season, which is down 13 percent from 2017. That’s a difference of about 20 million attendees between the two leagues and the 2018 NBA season was the highest on record.

Adding to the WNBA’s attendance foibles, the New York Liberty stopped using Madison Square Garden and now play at Westchester County Center, which has a 5,000-person capacity. The Washington Capitals will no longer attempt to fill Capital One Arena, but will now use St. Elizabeth Sports Arena, which houses a measly 4,200 persons. The Men’s basketball team at the University of Kentucky averaged 21,874 attendees per game in the 2018 season. They were paid only the cost of tuition.

Simply put, if a basketball player wants to rake in the cash that NBA players make, that athlete needs to be one of the 500 best basketball players on the planet. Men are better athletes than women so more people will pay, and pay higher rates, to see them play. As a basketball player I went to high school with once said, women’s basketball is like men’s, but underwater. The WNBA is a political venture for the NBA to pretend it cares about women’s basketball. It doesn’t and neither does the rest of the country. That is it, the whole story.

Since the WNBA is a net negative of $10 million per year, its players are obviously overpaid. In a just world, Mark Tatum would walk into the board room that the NBA obviously paid for and tell all of these women that they should be grateful before the basketball gods that they are paid, on average, over $77,000 per year to play a game for children.


Sources:

AP NewsBasketball ExaminedForbes, StatistaESPN, Her Hoop StatsSports Media Watch, CNN BusinessHoopfeedThe Federalist

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