Friday, July 24, 2009

Women: Still on the Defense

Last night, the interns and staff of FMF's DC office had a fabulous night out at the Washington Mystics game. The Mystics are Washington's WNBA team, and they were wonderful, beating the Chicago Sky 75-64. Of course, when it comes to the WNBA and women's sports in general, there's always fodder for the feminist blog.

For instance, yesterday it was relayed to me by a fellow intern that the WNBA capped the salaries for its teams (reduced from 13 to 11 players) at $900,000 in 2009. The salary cap for an NBA team? $57.7 million. No small wonder that much of the young talent in women's basketball is flocking to Europe to play.

The argument is that the NBA makes more money from the men's teams; critics insist that the WNBA has yet to even become profitable to the NBA, its "parent team." However, how can you expect the league to become profitable when its players are forced to spend their off months playing in Europe to subsidize their salaries and must shrink the size of their team roster just to make ends meet? The WNBA has only been around since 1997--why don't we give them some more time to build up a following and give them a chance to become profitable by giving them the tools to succeed on par with the men before concluding that they are a drain on the league?

When the subject is women's sports, there really is a whole smörgasbord of inequity to choose from, and salary differences are really just the start (I won't go into all the lovely sexual fetishism in which ESPN website commentators indulge when discussing the WNBA.) When you have a women's basketball league that exists as a tiny subset of the national league--a monetary investment that basically amounts to a rounding error of the NBA's total finances--you further the idea that women's sports are an afterthought. Men, once again, are the standard. And after all the initial outrage, my question is this: why aren't more people talking about this?

My suspicion: this kind of treatment has become the norm.

Picture courtesy of Ellen Saliares.

1 comment:

Danielle said...

It sounds like we need more women in sports management to ensure women's sports are treated and promoted fairly. In case you missed it:

Women's pro soccer struggles to gain acceptance:

Rutgers b-ball player will play professionally in Europe before entering WNBA draft: