The State of the WNBA, Part 2
As the Players’ Association is negotiating to develop a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the focus should be on increasing the players’ slice of the league’s pie.
In an article in the Players’ Tribune, NBA player Bradley Beal wrote that all WNBA players are asking for is more Basketball Related Income (BRI), which includes broadcast rights, advertising, merchandising, and concessions.
Currently, NBA players receive 50 percent of their league’s BRI, while the women receive less than 25 percent. Fans pay their money to see the players – who are training in the offseason, practicing every day, and putting their bodies on the line, literally. The State of the WNBA, Part 1
So, the first demand of the players’ union should be that the W’s BRI be increased to 40 percent. An increase from less than 25 to 40 percent is a good start to significantly decreasing the number of players who play internationally, or year round, to supplement their income.
The Washington Mystics’ Kristi Toliver made history when she became the first active W player to be on an NBA coaching staff. She worked as an assistant for the Washington Wizards during the 2018 season after playing 10 years overseas. However, under the former CBA, there was only a $50,000 allowance per team if players worked for the same corporate body that owned their W club. As a result, Toliver was only paid $10,000 because the other $40,000 was already promised to her teammate, Elena Della Donne, who worked in the offseason to promote the franchise.
The second demand of the Union should be to have allowance caps removed from offseason jobs, specifically involving the same corporate body. Because, more likely than not, players are going to choose to stay home and work with partnering organizations, so they can rest their bodies and be near family and friends, instead of going overseas to play. Therefore, they should be able to earn at least a prorated salary for the position they’re filling.
Finally, teams shouldn’t be penalized because of the mishaps of commercial airlines.
This past season, the Las Vegas Aces had to forfeit a game because, after 26 hours of travel due to flight delays and cancellations, they decided not to play. By the time the team reached the hotel, it was only about four hours before tipoff.
Another demand should be for teams to have chartered flights for the entire season and not just during the semifinals of the playoffs.
In order to meet these requests, the league needs to invest more money into its players: market the W more often; generate more corporate partners and sponsorship; and negotiate TV deals with multiple sports networks per season, like ESPN, CBS, Fox and Turner Sports.
In addition to its streaming deal with Twitter, the W should have playoff games streamed on other social platforms like Instagram and Facebook to reach people who don’t have cable or who spend hours on social media. This will also create opportunities to receive more advertising dollars.
These actions won’t happen overnight, nor is this an exhaustive list of ways to improve the W, but they are some beneficial next steps to keep the league moving in the right direction.
*W denotes WNBA