Stop Blaming the WNBA for the NBA Lockout
Ignorance, as we all know, can be bliss.
When the NBA lockout officially hit last week, sportswriters across the country immediately began casting blame on the WNBA, calling it “money-bleeding” and a “bad business venture” that ultimately contributed (somehow) to the hundreds of millions of dollars the NBA is losing (supposedly) on an annual basis.
Nothing new. We’ve heard it before. And we’ve proven how false those statements and accusations are.
Time after time.
Still, that’s precisely why this so troubling. Instead of investing time and energy into the thriving WNBA (and, yes, it is thriving), writers continue to use the WNBA as a scapegoat and view the league as the NBA’s ugly step-child. Or, perhaps even more ludicrous, they make these accusations without, seemingly, performing any ounce of research. We’re a society that feels compelled to blame someone or something for everything so it’s certainly not a surprise.
Lately, the “in” thing to do is “blame the women” for the NBA lockout.
But as the great folks at DC BasketCases’s explain, Ken Berger’s (CBS Sports) and Mike Wise’s (Washington Post) logic that the WNBA somehow is contributing to the NBA’s demise isn’t just irresponsible; it’s simply not true.
“The WNBA’s salary cap per team this season is $852,000. That’s the maximum total combined salary for all 11 players on one team. (WNBA salaries are so small by pro sports standards that most players play overseas during the winter to earn their living.) The NBA’s salary cap this past season per team was $58 MILLION. The minimum a team was allowed to pay out in salaries was $43.5 MILLION. The average salary for one single NBA player this past year was a reported $6 MILLION. Kobe Bryant’s 2010-11 NBA salary was a reported $24.8 MILLION. Not to mention (but we will) that WNBA players fly coach, not plush private charters.”
Keep in mind: this isn’t their opinion; these are cold, hard facts. So, tell me again how any of this is the WNBA’s fault when Eddy Curry got paid more to NOT play than every player in the WNBA combined? Why is the WNBA “money-bleeding” when, in addition to Curry, over 30 NBA players (who actually played) can make the same claim? Or why, in one game ($307,853), Kobe Bryant makes over 1/3 of an entire WNBA team’s yearly salary?
And we’re seriously going to blame the WNBA for the NBA’s financial woes?
The argument about revenue sharing is also grossly irrelevant. Yes, obviously the NBA generates substantially more revenue and their players will naturally make more. But WNBA salaries and operating expenses are so insignificant they’re merely a drop in the pond by comparison. That’s why it is so disgusting that NBA players are “joking” about now having to buy in bulk or sending out inquiries asking if anyone is hiring.
Does the NBA invest time and money in the WNBA? Absolutely. But why is that viewed as a negative thing amongst the majority of mainstream sportswriters? Are they saying that professional women’s sports aren’t worth it? The return on investment is growing as evidenced by an increase in television ratings, in-game attendance, and official sponsorships. What does this mean? That the WNBA is well on its way towards becoming fully self-sustaining.
Regardless, it’s a troubling message these writers continue to send, whether they consciously mean to or not.
Because of their constant attack and falsely placed blame, it becomes increasingly difficult not to play the “gender” card in this situation. In spite of all of the evidence and facts that prove the WNBA isn’t (and has never) “leached” money from the NBA (as some have put it), writers still cast the WNBA as the villain.
The message being sent to the masses is that women’s basketball isn’t valuable from any standpoint and certainly not worth investing in financially or emotionally. Again, whether they mean to or not isn’t a viable excuse.
But this isn’t about your personal feelings regarding the WNBA or women’s basketball; it’s about things that are true and things that are not true. Nor does it matter if you think the WNBA will ever be a mainstream sports league or not. Or if it will ever reach levels of popularity similar to the NBA. It doesn’t matter how much you hate or love the WNBA, it has absolutely no correlation with the NBA locking out.
At what point should we demand an apology or retraction? That’s what happens in every other publication when the writer makes a mistake, if facts were skewed or if people were misquoted. Why isn’t there one at the bottom of this column on CBSSports.com that said the WNBA was “money-bleeding” and a huge contributing factor to the NBA’s lockout? Again, that wasn’t just the writer’s opinion; he formulated that statement as truth and presented it as such.
But even if there was an addendum, it wouldn’t matter. The damage is already done. More people will read that column than this one and will likely believe his assertions and accusations of the WNBA’s role in the lockout.
What a shame.
So, if it makes you feel better to blame the WNBA, fine. I mean, there’s no truth to it, but whatever helps you sleep at night…
This is the NBA’s issue. Leave the WNBA out of it.