Basketball Livestream Accidentally Illustrates the Wealth Gap Between Women and Men Athletes

Chris Paul’s Houston Mansion
Chris Paul’s Houston Mansion
Screenshot: Twitter

In an attempt to remind everyone that the NBA still exists, ESPN live-streamed a glitchy HORSE contest on Sunday night between players isolated in their mansions. In a surprising turn of events, the competition also included two WNBA players who, shockingly enough, do not live on palatial estates with elaborate indoor courts attached, instead competing from their perfectly average suburban homes, complete with ad-hoc basketball hoops. The pay gap between NBA and WNBA players is nothing new, but to see it displayed so perfectly in side by side streams of players on their home courts punctuates the disparity better than words.

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Tamika Catchings is a retired WNBA champion and MVP; she was paired with Mike Conely Jr. of the Utah Jazz, a team that no one outside (or inside) of Utah cares about. Conely played indoors in his home gym—an NBA regulation-sized basketball court. Catchings, who has not played a professional game since 2016, competed in her driveway which featured a standalone hoop and a well-manicured lawn. Catchings, who is slated to be inducted into the basketball hall of fame, lost the match and won’t go to the next round of this cursed tournament.

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The next match up was between Allie Quigley, who plays for the Chicago Sky and Chris Paul, a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Both players convened outdoors, in very different situations. Although not regulation size, Paul’s court is an actual court with a cement top, while Quigley plays on a bricked driveway with her hoop shoved into the bushes to make more space. (Note the chalk outline on the ground to denote where the free throw line would be if she were actually given enough money to purchase a space that could accommodate such a luxury as a free throw line.)

The remainder of the matches showcased NBA players who seemed to be upstaging each other in real estate more than basketball. From one estate to the next, the difference between WNBA money and NBA money was made even more painful by the poor streaming quality of some of the matchups. All that money and no one thought to buy a Steadicam for this competition.

Update 4/13/20 12:51 pm: This post has been updated with the correct spelling of Mike Conely’s name. 

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DISCUSSION

WNBA players should be paid more—probably more than double what they’re paid now. However, even if there were parity between the percentage of league revenue paid to WNBA and NBA players, respectively, there would still be a huge dollars-and-cents wealth gap.

In 2018, the WNBA’s annual revenue was $60 million; the NBA’s revenue in 2018 that year was approx. $9 billion. Presently, per contract, between 49% and 51% of NBA revenue goes to players (so multiple billions of dollats). So, even if WNBA players received 50% of their league’s revenue, it still wouldn’t a candle to the gobs of money that coming the way of NBA players.

Source of figures.