The Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBA) has decided to opt out of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), which ends after the 2019 season.
The news was announced on Thursday morning in a statement from NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum, who is currently overseeing the WNBA on an interim basis while they search for a full-time commissioner.
“We were informed today that the Women’s National Basketball Players Association has opted out of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement following the 2019 season. The league and its teams are committed to an open and good-faith negotiation that is rooted in the financial realities of our business. We are getting to work immediately and are confident such a process can lead to a fair deal for all involved.”
This is a move that has been rumored for quite a while, as the issue of fair pay has been at the forefront of the league’s issues for the last few seasons.
Multiple WNBA players have voiced their opinions over the last couple of seasons about the inequality of pay compared to their compatriots in the NBA, with the main argument being that they don’t expect to be paid the same but a fair share of the WNBA revenue.
Dallas Wings guard Skylar Diggins-Smith broke down the argument in a USA Today article in August, stating what has been obvious for a while:
“Players in the NBA get about 50% of the revenue. For women, the percentage is in the twenties,” Diggins-Smith said. “So before we even talk about base salary or anything like that, we don’t even get paid the same percentage of the revenue that we bring in, which is kind of unbelievable. People try to hijack this issue and say that women’s basketball may not be as interesting a game, because they disparage women in sports, period.”
“But we don’t even make the same percentage of revenue! And jersey sales…we don’t get any of it. The men do. And I have had a top-five jersey for three or four years in the WNBA.”
The most high-profile example of the WNBA’s pay disparity is Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi, who was paid $1.5 million in 2015 by UMMC Ekaterinburg (the Russian club she plays for) to sit out for the 2015 season. At the time, Taurasi was getting paid the max salary a WNBA player could make, which was $107,000.
This has become even more of an issue as of recently, when the NBA announced that select high school players would get paid $125,000 if they chose the “professional path” provide by the G-League instead of going overseas or the “one-and-done” route of spending a season in college then going for the NBA Draft.
Connecticut Sun forward Chiney Ogwumike had a good chuckle when the news was released, as evidenced by her Twitter post:
But lowkey the real question here is: with this being more than the WNBA max salary, would women be allowed to hoop in the GLeague? because I think some of us could hang. Asking for a friend. ????✊???? ???? https://t.co/tTLYEg7UzL
— Chiney Ogwumike (@Chiney321) October 18, 2018
This has the potential to change women’s professional basketball as we currently know it, as the players are taking this very seriously. Would they be willing to sacrifice the 2020 season for it? We’ve seen top players take time off already, so there is a precedent.
Whoever the next WNBA Commissioner happens to be, this will be a monumental first task.
Rachel Nichols, Adrian Wojnarowski, Stan Van Gundy, and Chauncey Billups discussed the players’ decision on The Jump.