The WNBA has been changed forever with its new CBA deal.  It has increased player salaries and also brought about other important landmarks such as maternity leave pay, access to mental health providers, and improved traveling arrangements.  While the league is still losing money and it bound to continue that trend over the next few years, the consensus around in the media is that this deal is being casted as an investment for everyone involved.  Bleacher Report writer Arielle Chambers joined the show on January 15th, 2020 to talk about the monumental deal that took place.

 

Shapiro opens up the conversation:

“Explain to us how long this has been going on for and your thoughts on this new CBA deal.”

 

Arielle Chambers responded:

“I think we have a unique position where women are starting to use their voices more.  We knew that the season was coming to an end in October, but people have been thinking about it in the past two years like, ‘Okay we know we are being treated unfairly.’  How can we compromise with the league to have every party happy in a practical way?’  

 

She later went on to say:

“Though there are still some unsatisfied players and that is always going to happen, but you see the league taking steps in the right direction to please everybody.  Just for the salary increase alone you’ll see a new amount of pride.

 

The league had to find a way to make the players happy.  Having half of the WNBA complain about their subpar conditions on social media brought nothing positive.  The misogynist of the internet flock to Twitter faster than 12 year olds to Fortnite when they find out a new skin was released waiting for any opportunity to tell women they don’t deserve any life of luxury as a female athlete.  That caused the fans of the WNBA to get involved in a never ending argument and the majority of comments on highlighted games to be cesspool of pure degeneracy. 

 

Shapiro talks financials:

“From a financial perspective to me anyway, Arielle, this makes absolutely no sense if this is a business that makes loses money every year.”  

 

Arielle said:

“With any financial investment you have to invest, right?  You have to see a business model where the public can say, ‘Hey, I can see this as a quality product and we want to invest money in it so we get a better product to you guys.’  I think that where the league has struggled in past by saying, ‘Hey, we are losing money every year.’ You don’t tell the public that. You have to have a sense of pride in that.  You have to look at how the NBA was 25 years ago. They were losing money as well. There are still some teams that are losing 60 million a year which is more than the WNBA loses as a whole.”

 

Finding the exact metrics on individual team loses financially for both the WNBA and NBA are very difficult.  The leagues are understandably discrete about this kind of data because it would most likely devalue certain franchises.  I think the whole idea that the WNBA is siphoning money from the NBA is very overblown. The NBA gives about 7% of its yearly revenues to the WNBA and the investment is primarily for their image.  They want to be known as the most progressive league in the world. They own the only female counterpart to any major sport in the country outside of maybe soccer but that is almost exclusively linked to international play.  Although most people say that the NBA was losing money for many years that kind of data is not readily available to the public. Being that attendance is on par, or in many cases lower than that of the WNBA I would not be surprised if the league was experiencing similar loses at the time.  Developing a successful league is not easy. We saw that with the Alliance of American Football. Any sports league needs to have a powerful backing to be successful which is something we are seeing a lot more with the XFL. 

 

Shapiro asked a very relevant question:

“So, you think that a lot of these women will stop playing overseas in the offseason then because they’ll be making enough money now?”

 

Arielle responded:

“I think we have to see how the CBA rules to see if it’s worth it but the Euro League as of now pays more.  I think there are those instances that you are making half a mill, your top players are going to stay at home to do community work.  They can get out there and be within the community and build that fanbase.”

 

This is vital for the WNBA to address.  I remember that in the Aces’ first season in Vegas they started the WNBA season without Plum or McBride.  I was so flabbergasted that I had no idea what was happening. It took them three weeks into the regular season to become regulars within the rotation.  That was the most embarrassing thing I had ever seen in a professional sport. These kinds of principles have been plaguing the WNBA since its conception.  The league can never grow when the league doesn’t abide by the most basic fundamental rules of a successful league. Could you imagine James Harden taking the first few weeks off of the NBA season because he was playing in the Euro League?  When it comes to overseas data, I refuse to believe that people prefer European basketball leagues over the WNBA. It makes no sense. The product is significantly better in the United States. There is no statistical support to suggest that the EWPL is bringing in a lot more money than the WNBA.  It doesn’t exist. I can only go off the fact that the European Men’s league pales in comparison to the NBA.

 

Arielle talked about whether she believed any more WNBA teams would be on the move:

“As far as movement wise I see franchises staying in place.  You just saw the big move with the New York Liberty going to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn so I think that is going to be great for the overall city of Brooklyn.

 

I really hope that the New York Liberty are able to turn things around because their attendance numbers are abysmal.  They own pieces like Kia Nurse, Asia Durr, and Amanda Zahui B. who are deserving of the top attendance of the league. Their roster has the best young core in the WNBA and I expect at least two of them to earn top money in the league at some point in their careers.   

 

Arielle had this to say in regard to the additional benefits of the CBA deal outside of increased salaries:

“As far as other things included in the in the CBA, paid maternity leave.  We didn’t realize the players didn’t have it. That’s huge. Knowing you are valued as a woman and you can give life and having a league that values you, to have that paid maternity leave is huge.  To have your own hotel room on the road. That used to be a vet privilege and now that’s the standard. I love that. Having extra space on a plane, that goes without reason because most of them are 6’4”/6’5”.”

 

It’s great to see the league address these glairing issues.  The idea that a woman in the WNBA doesn’t have paid maternity leave is the most backwards thing I can imagine.  This league is supposed to be at the forefront of woman rights and prior to this year they weren’t even providing basic care for its players.  The players are going to be noticeably happier and that will be reflected in the product on the court.

 

JD talks about contracts:

“So, $217,000 is the pay for the top.  Who in your opinion is going to get that pay?  Give me 5 players who deserve that pay.

 

She said:

“Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Candice Parker, Liz Cambage, and Silvia Fowles.”

 

I have no idea how cap space works in the WNBA or even how money is distributed amongst the league.  I can only comment on this based on the assumption that this is the equivalent to a super max deal. If that is the case, I would definitely not give max money to Sue Bird or Diana Taurasi.  The age of these players would not yield positive returns from a financial standpoint. The WNBA is in a more unique position in the NBA because star players are much more evenly distributed amongst teams so max deals are much less painful to endure.  I think that super max contracts were the worst thing to ever happen in the modern day of basketball but that is an article for another day.

 

A big majority of the segment is about this debate about the “quality” of the WNBA versus the NBA.  Wynn and Shapiro viewed quality in terms of the talent of the players while Sharp and Arielle viewed quality in terms of the play as a viewer.  Here is my take on the subject:

 

The WNBA has a very high quality of basketball.  By that I mean the fundamentals are the biggest asset of the league.  Offenses are run in a much more professional manor and the game is less frantic.  With that being said, the NBA is a much more entertaining product to watch overall.  The athleticism and aggression of the game could never be matched with the WNBA. Additionally, I am fully aware that a WNBA team would never have a chance against a NBA team.  No one would actually make that argument because it makes no sense.

Spencer Ostrovsky

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