An Overdue Pay Raise


JT Bellina, Reporter

With both the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and the Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA) seasons coming to an end, salary questions are likely to resurface during this year’s offseason. Each league has worked towards raising their athlete’s salaries, but in comparison to the average NBA or MLS salaries, the pay increase could almost be seen as an insult. Women’s leagues are growing in popularity around the world, but their salaries aren’t quite following the trend. 

On April 22, 2022, the most attended women’s sporting event in history took place in Barcelona, Spain. With 91,648 fans present, the famous Camp Nou stadium set the stage for one of the biggest Champions League games of the year, the semi-final between FC Barcelona and Wolfsburg. That same Barcelona women’s team won the biggest club tournament in the world just a year before, yet the players on the team found themselves getting paid a yearly wage that was similar to what a Barcelona men’s player would make in a mere week. Samuel Umtiti, a benchwarmer on a struggling FC Barcelona men’s team, makes roughly €230,000 as a weekly wage, while one of the most talented players on the women’s team makes about €180,000 a year. 

Even though €180,000 yearly is nowhere close to €230,000 weekly, the pay of most female athletes in America is even worse. Two of the most popular women’s leagues in the states are the NWSL and the WNBA. In the NWSL, the average salary hovers around fifty-thousand dollars while the WNBA’s is a bit closer to six figures. When looking at these numbers, it is clear why many players are outraged about their salaries, especially when an average salary of around fifty-thousand dollars means that players towards the bottom of the payroll are barely making enough money to support themselves. 

When looking at this issue many people are split fifty-fifty. One side of them defends that female athletes should receive equal pay, while the other half wonders where that money will even come from. While this philosophy does address the biggest obstacle in the way, the focus of the message is centered around the wrong thing. Rather than looking at the issue from a split perspective, a simple adjustment in this statement could be made to help increase women’s pay in sports; women 100% deserve to be paid the same amount of money as men, however, there is 100% a problem with getting to that point.  

Skylar Diggins, one of the biggest basketball stars in the country, voiced her opinion in an interview with Wealthsimple, “But we don’t even make the same percentage of the revenue! And jersey sales…we don’t get any of it.” Simple changes such as giving female players the same percentage of revenue as male players could easily increase the pay of WNBA players. While the WNBA itself does not bring in the same amount of money as the NBA, both leagues are owned by the same association. Both leagues are wealthy enough to increase WNBA salaries, which could make a world of difference to players who are at the bottom of the payroll. 

While a league such as the WNBA has no excuse for not giving its players a significant pay rise, leagues such as the NWSL run into bigger problems. The NWSL has no affiliations with any other leagues and solely depends on the investing from the owners of the teams in the league. The NWSL brings in around 7000 people per game, the highest average attendance rate among women’s sports in the United States. While this number is on the rise, problems such as a lack of televised games and viewers watching severely hold back independent leagues such as the NWSL. 

There will always be problems with the financial side of things no matter what gender is playing and whatever sport is being played. However, now more than ever is it clear to see the need for more involvement to increase the salaries of women in sports.