We went back through the data to see just how the WNBA stacks up against the NBA. It came as no surprise to see it reflect other sporting codes like football. The men’s game has been at it longer and has 123x the revenue of the WNBA to prove it.
As an aside we have always advocated paying women more than men if the viewership reflects that – championship tennis is a case in point. We also made it clear at the time of Serena Williams’ tantrum that the statistics showed umpires were harsher on men than women over the last 20 years, even though she claimed the opposite. Once again, facts matter. Not feelings.
Put simply, when fans are asked to put hard money down, both men and women tend to support the male codes more than the female versions. It isn’t sexist. It’s the commercial reality. That translates to advertising and sponsorship dollars too. It is a virtuous circle that can always become vicious.
We think the WNBA’s political stunt which involved players walking off the court before the national anthem was played will backfire spectacularly and alienate what few viewers the league has managed to accumulate. It was a choice that the woke league backed. They should live with the consequences and not cry foul should attendance drop.
An article written by Sarah Ko about the WNBA ended up debunking her own argument. Essentially the men were all ego and money but the women were all just celebrating the love of the game, not the paycheck.
Then Ko spoke about the recent event where the WNBA complained that they only take 20% of the winnings when the NBA teams took 50%. Could it be that there is a bare minimum level of cost to run a league – salaries, administration, marketing and promotion- that would be drastically curtailed if the players got their wish, which ultimately would see them paid less over a lifetime.
Ko also mentioned that WNBA tended to have older fans. At some point, the WNBA administration has to make a commercial decision about how to broaden the supporter base. Having its players cynically hijack a social justice movement to gain attention to boost its audience numbers is risky. Writing ‘Black Lives Matter‘ on the court won’t help either. Why do they only advertise the names of dead black females? Don’t all female lives matter?
Sport has always been a great distraction from the stresses of daily life. Fans will desert in droves when the very identity politics they went to the game to escape are rammed down their throats before a whistle has been blown.
The ultimate irony will be when the very capitalist system they expected would boost their pay clashes with the same hand they bit to feed it.