Economics, Not Sexism

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Until recently, the world of sports was exclusive to men. But just because women have finally earned the right to step on to the playing field does not mean everything is equal. In her article “Purse Snatching” Donna Lopiano, director of the Women’s Sports Foundation, states her belief that the financial inequality between male and female athletes is caused by sexism. But since the profits in women’s sports are less than those in men’s sports there is no economically feasible way for female athletes to earn as much as their male counterparts.

Lopiano complains that WNBA players earn far less than the men of the NBA. She points out that “…WNBA players had trouble negotiating minimum salary guarantees of $20,000 to $30,000 a year, a tiny fraction of what most NBA players make” (Lopiano 1). She neglects to mention that the WNBA’s average loss per team was between $1.5 million and $2 million in 2007. This is why a minimum salary guarantee was hard to negotiate; if WNBA teams cannot turn a profit then their players should not expect to earn anything near the same salary as NBA players. Sexism is not to blame for lower WNBA salaries, for when the two leagues are juxtaposed it becomes clear that the money simply is not there. Lopiano is correct in saying, “it took almost 30 years for the NBA to average 10,000 spectators a game and only two years for the WNBA to reach that mark,” (Lopiano 1). However, she leaves out many other pertinent statistics. For instance, the average fan attendance per WNBA game in 2009 was 8,039 (Callahan 1); that same year, the NBA drew in 17,502 fans per game on average (ESPN). The WNBA charged, on average, $18 a ticket (TW); the NBA’s average ticket price sat at $48.90 (Klayman). Look at the numbers; Lopiano’s claims of sexism as the cause of female players’ lower salaries seem even less plausible. Televised broadcasts also account for a great deal of the leagues’ revenue. Both leagues have eight-year deals with major networks, yet the...
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