Contract terms are never easy to reach, especially in the sporting world as it’s owners vs players with all wanting a piece of the action.
Now we are hearing that the WNBA and their players’ union have come to terms on a new eight-year collective bargaining agreement, which includes higher salaries, improved family benefits as well as overall better travel accommodations for all players and teams.
The league currently consists of twelve (12) teams and was founded April 24, 1996, as the Women’s counterpart to the NBA, and started league play in 1997.
The current CBA is dated to the stone-age in March 2014 and would have run until the conclusion of the 2021 season.
To no surprise the WNBPA decided to opt-out prior to the 2019 season and it should be noted that this is the second time the negotiations and current CBA have been extended.
The first extension dates back to the end of October, which took the deadline to December 31.
This is important as moving forward for both sides represents a turning point for Women’s basketball, which could eventually lead to a substantial shift in how Female Athletes in all sports are eventually not just treated but also compensated financially.
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert mentioned “We believe it’s a groundbreaking and historic deal. I’m proud of the players and they bargained hard, they unified, they brought attention to so many important topics.”
Some might question the contract, but in a nutshell it includes the following:
- Money: The average cash compensation will reach nearly $130,000 and top players will be able to earn upwards of $500,000.
- Benefits: Players will receive a full salary while on maternity leave and an annual child care stipend of $5,000.
- Living: The league’s teams, which provide housing, will now guarantee two-bedroom apartments for players with children.
- Travel: Players will still have to fly commercial (rather than charter), but they’ll finally get their own individual hotel rooms.
It’s reported that Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner mentioned “In 2018 the WNBA had lost more than $10 million in each year of operation, a figure that has been pointed in the past for keeping salaries extremely low, compared to other sports.
WSJ’s Rachel Bachman points out, “what are seen as troubling financial losses in fledgling women’s leagues are often seen in men’s leagues as investments.”
Major League Soccer averaged the same number of viewers (246,000) for regular-season games on ESPN last year as did the WNBA.
This indicates that they are losing more than $100 million annually because it’s investing in players (the average base salary in 2019 was $345,867), and nobody bats an eye.
The bottom line per NYT’s Howard Megdal mentions “The implications of the agreement stretch far beyond basketball at a time when women around the world are demanding increased pay and benefits, on their own merit and as a challenge to historically unequal pay that leaves them earning less than men for similar work.”
Here’s hoping for a brighter future for the league and its players.