Will upping ante for players make WNBA a better league?

  • The WNBA and its union announced a tentative eight-year labor deal Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020,  that will allow top players to earn more than $500,000 while the average annual compensation for players will surpass six figures for the first time. "It was collaborative effort,'" WNBA players' union president Nneka Ogwumike said.

    The WNBA and its union announced a tentative eight-year labor deal Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, that will allow top players to earn more than $500,000 while the average annual compensation for players will surpass six figures for the first time. "It was collaborative effort,'" WNBA players' union president Nneka Ogwumike said. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 1/18/2020 6:58 AM

Twitter has been flooded by plenty of #BetOnWomen taglines attached to tweets about the WNBA's new collective bargaining agreement.

The WNBA and players Tuesday agreed to what the league says is a "groundbreaking" eight-year deal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Better money. Better benefits. Better revenue sharing.

Better, better, better: A signal that even at a time the WNBA is losing money every year, its teams and owners are choosing to dig in their heels and #BetOnWomen.

Where is the extra money coming from? Sources say it's not from the NBA. It's the teams and owners investing.

They are betting on women.

Early details of the deal seem great for the players, who have been seeking better pay and improved work conditions for quite some time.

According to the WNBA, top players will be able to earn in excess of $500,000 per season, more than tripling the maximum under the prior CBA. Others can earn up to $300,000 and, for the first time in WNBA history, the average cash compensation for players will average $130,000.

New 50-50 revenue sharing begins with the 2021 season.

Travel (flights and hotels) has been improved, child-care benefits enhanced (full salary during maternity leave), and expanded offseason career development opportunities.

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An important aspect of the #BetOnWomen idea, and a necessity for this new CBA to help the bottom line and the long-term success and solvency of the league is whether the players also invest, if they #BetOnTheWNBA.

The WNBA and its ownership, which has, according to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, lost approximately $10 million per season since its inception, is taking a risk by pouring more money into the league while it tries to establish firm financial footing.

Now it's the players turn. Will the players fully invest themselves in the WNBA?

One of the main problems the WNBA has had is most of its players never get a break from basketball.

There are better-paying professional leagues in Europe, Russia and China that play a typical winter schedule and pay out more than $1 million per season to the top players, which is significantly more than the top players got in the prior CBA, and well more than they'll get under the new CBA.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Most players like playing in the WNBA because they like being around friends and family. They also look at the bottom line and they like the higher salaries overseas. To maximize earnings they play overseas too.

They go from the WNBA season often straight to their overseas seasons, and often right back to the WNBA.

This creates some major wear-and-tear on their bodies.

Breanna Stewart, one of the league's best, sat out last season due to a torn Achilles tendon she suffered in one of her final overseas game.

Players have been late to start a WNBA season because their overseas team is in the playoffs.

Some WNBA stars such as Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore, have skipped entire WNBA seasons to take a break from basketball.

The WNBA came to the table during these negotiations with pretty much better everything to entice players to #BetOnTheWNBA, to make the league their lone priority.

The WNBA wants players to show up to the season on time, refreshed and ready to go. They want players to stay in their markets in the off-season to promote their teams instead of across the ocean.

There is, of course, no mandate forcing this.

As the WNBA has chosen to #BetOnWomen will players choose to #BetOnTheWNBA, and forgo playing overseas?

If they do, this league could skyrocket.

• Twitter: @babcockmcgraw

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