Home Technology WNBA draft 2024: Caitlin Clark’s staggeringly low beginning wage, briefly defined

WNBA draft 2024: Caitlin Clark’s staggeringly low beginning wage, briefly defined

WNBA draft 2024: Caitlin Clark’s staggeringly low beginning wage, briefly defined


Caitlin Clark, a university basketball phenom and the highest choose at Monday’s WNBA draft, will make a staggeringly low wage in her rookie yr in comparison with her NBA counterpart.

Regardless of her record-breaking efficiency within the NCAA and the vitality that she’s generated for the game, Clark’s base wage can be $76,535 as a rookie. Within the NBA, in the meantime, the primary draft choose is anticipated to make roughly $10.5 million in base wage their first yr.

Gamers like Clark, who was picked by the Indiana Fever Monday evening after a number of blockbuster seasons as a degree guard for the College of Iowa Hawkeyes, and former Louisiana State College ahead Angel Reese, who was signed by the Chicago Sky, have helped ladies’s faculty basketball obtain a landmark yr. For the primary time ever, the ladies’s closing March Insanity recreation, which drew as many as 24 million viewers, surpassed the viewership of the boys’s closing.

“It’s been catapulted this yr to a complete new degree,” says College of Michigan sports activities administration professor Ketra Armstrong. “Persons are tuning in to the WNBA draft that by no means had earlier than.”

The contemporary consideration for the WNBA draft, nevertheless, can be spotlighting the issues the league has had with pay fairness. For years, the WNBA’s salaries have lagged the NBA’s by an enormous margin. That’s due partly to the leagues’ variations in income and season lengths. However different elements, like variations in collective bargaining agreements and revenue-sharing, additionally play a giant function.

Due to how intently sports activities observers are following Clark, some followers have raised questions on these points — and her function in addressing them. “Can Caitlin Clark repair the WNBA and NBA pay hole?”, one Forbes article requested.

That framing misunderstands a few of the central causes of the hole, nevertheless. Whereas Clark and Reese may effectively convey extra eyes to WNBA video games, the problem of pay gaps is an institutional one. As such, it’s not within the energy, neither is it the accountability, of anyone participant to resolve.

“The challenges going through ladies athletes, from pay disparities to restricted media protection, stem from entrenched societal norms [and] institutional biases … that can’t be remedied by the actions of 1 particular person alone,” says Georgetown College sports activities business administration professor La Quita Frederick.

The pay-gap downside is larger than anyone participant

Regardless of her record-breaking efficiency within the NCAA and the vitality that she’s generated for the game, Clark will earn lower than 1 p.c of what her male counterpart will make in her first yr. She is going to have the ability to complement her wage by endorsement and advertising and marketing offers, however even with these, her estimated earnings can be decrease than the bottom wage of a first-round NBA choose.

Clark isn’t alone. WNBA star Brittney Griner — who spent months jailed in Russia — spoke concerning the purpose she performed overseas within the offseason, and famous {that a} large a part of it was to complement her revenue: “I’ll say this … the entire purpose plenty of us go over is the pay hole,” she mentioned at a press convention in April 2023. In 2023, a WNBA participant made a $113,295 base wage on common, whereas an NBA participant made a median base wage of $9.7 million.

The NBA’s a lot bigger income is a part of the explanation for this discrepancy: It takes in an estimated $10 billion yearly, in comparison with the WNBA, which has been projected to herald roughly $200 million. Its season can be about twice the size of the WNBA’s, together with 82 video games in comparison with 40 video games. These elements alone, nevertheless, don’t inform the total story.

A serious supply of pay inequity additionally stems from the collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) the gamers’ unions have with the 2 leagues — and the quantity of income they get to share.

As Eden Laase explains for Simply Ladies’s Sports activities, male gamers are assured a a lot bigger share of income than ladies are, that means they make extra because the league grows. Due to how their CBA is structured, NBA gamers are in a position to obtain 50 p.c of all “shared income,” which incorporates every part from ticket gross sales to broadcasting rights. WNBA gamers, nevertheless, don’t obtain the identical ensures.

As an alternative, WNBA gamers get 50 p.c of “incremental income,” which is outlined as income that exceeds the targets the league has set for itself. As Bloomberg has discovered, the league has not met these targets, that means WNBA gamers have not reaped any of those rewards.

All informed, about 40 p.c of all NBA league income goes to participant salaries, whereas the WNBA places roughly 10 p.c of all league income towards its gamers’ salaries, in accordance with an estimate from David Berri, an economist at Southern Utah College who’s the co-author of a forthcoming e-book about ladies’s sports activities.

Due to these disparities, WNBA gamers are pushing to vary their compensation association. “We’re not asking to receives a commission what the boys receives a commission. We’re asking to receives a commission the identical proportion of income shared,” Las Vegas Aces participant Kelsey Plum mentioned on The Residency Podcast in 2022. Gamers will subsequent have an opportunity to barter for that change in 2025, which is the earliest they’ll choose out of the present settlement.

Individually, increasing the WNBA’s fanbase may additionally assist the gamers acquire extra leverage in negotiations and probably allow the league to hit its income targets. Stars like Clark and Reese may assist with these targets, with the Indiana Fever already seeing a spike in ticket curiosity forward of this week’s draft, for instance.

However it may possibly’t be simply them. Actually rising the league would require the NBA, WNBA house owners, and WNBA management to take a position extra in rising publicity for the sport and offering assets to gamers, specialists say. Such efforts may come within the type of extra advertising and marketing, company sponsorships, and higher broadcast offers in an effort to proceed constructing curiosity and pleasure within the league. Already, such strikes are underway: In 2022, the WNBA raised $75 million from buyers, together with funds it intends to make use of for advertising and marketing and advertisements.

“To be able to earn cash, you need to spend cash,” Pepperdine College sports activities administration professor Alicia Jessop informed Market in 2020. “When the NBA started, its seats weren’t crammed. It was not driving hundreds of thousands of viewers. The distinction is more cash was spent to construct that league.”

To make sure that gamers profit because the league grows, essential adjustments should be made to their contracts, too.


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