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Caitlin Clark: One-on-One

Caitlin Clark: One-on-One


Faculty basketball sensation Caitlin Clark will earn lower than six figures in her rookie season with the Indiana Fever, reigniting debate over whether or not skilled girls athletes within the U.S. are pretty paid. 

Clark, this yr’s No. 1 draft choose within the WNBA, can have a beginning wage of $76,535 and earn roughly $338,000 over the four-year contract she signed with the Fever. The second, third and fourth picks on this yr’s draft will even earn $76,535 their first yr, in response to the league’s collective bargaining settlement. The bottom annual pay for all 4 athletes will see solely a modest rise over the subsequent few years — $78,066 in 2025, $85,873 in 2026 and $97,582 in 2027. 

Decrease-ranked WNBA draft picks earn much less, in response to a wage scale outlined within the gamers’ settlement with the league. Gamers are additionally eligible for bonuses on the finish of the season, based mostly on efficiency. For instance, the “Rookie of the 12 months” award comes with a $5,150 bonus. 

The WNBA didn’t instantly reply to CBS MoneyWatch’s request for touch upon the way it units athlete salaries.

Clark’s earnings will not be restricted to her WNBA wage. She’s anticipated to signal sponsorship offers that may possible result in her incomes excess of than the 5 figures she’ll get for enjoying basketball. Already, her identify picture and likeness is valued at $3 million, a determine that is anticipated to develop, whereas she has already completed TV commercials for advertisers together with Gatorade, State Farm and Nike. 

Nonetheless, Clark’s base pay pales compared to her counterparts within the NBA. Rookie Victor Wembanyama, the primary choose in final yr’s NBA draft, made greater than $12 million for the 2023-24 season, his first yr within the NBA, in response to Spotrac, a website monitoring sports activities statistics.Her wage is roughly equal to that of a first-year or junior New York-based legal professional at a nationwide regulation agency, in response to a posting on job website Certainly.

With some on-line commentators expressing shock at Clark’s pay, President Biden weighed in Tuesday on the difficulty of pay disparity in sports activities.

“Girls in sports activities proceed to push new boundaries and encourage us all. However proper now we’re seeing that even when you’re the very best, girls will not be paid their fair proportion,” he mentioned in a post on X (previously referred to as Twitter). “It is time that we give our daughters the identical alternatives as our sons and guarantee girls are paid what they deserve.”

Indiana Fever introduce Caitlin Clark


To make certain, what feminine athletes “deserve” is up for debate. The NBA was based many years in the past and generates billions of {dollars} yearly. The WNBA, against this, was launched in 1996 and is much smaller, producing an estimated $200 million in income yearly, in response to a report from Simply Girls’s Sports activities. 

On the difficulty of compensation for particular person gamers, “There is not an infinite reservoir of cash they get to cope with,” Greg Bouris, a professor sports activities administration at Adelphi College, informed CBS MoneyWatch, including that the WNBA must meaningfully develop its income to ensure that participant salaries to extend. “It comes right down to economics.”. 

And as huge of a star as Clark has been for faculty basketball, she stays untested within the skilled area, he famous. That is a part of the rationale why each the NBA and WNBA problem caps on rookie salaries. 

“They’re coming in to play in opposition to the very best basketball gamers on the earth they usually have but to show themselves,” Bouris mentioned. “Sucess at one degree would not assure success on the different.”

By the identical token, Clark is predicted so as to add appreciable sizzle to the league, as she did in serving to the ladies’s NCAA match draw a bigger TV viewers than the boys. 

“She’s going to lift all boats”

“She’s coming in with all of this momentum in earned media protection for the WNBA, so the league has a possibility to capitalize on that. She’s having an amazing financial affect,” Bouris mentioned. “She’s going to lift all boats.”

The Girls’s Sports activities Basis, an advocacy group for girls in sports activities based by tennis legend Billie Jean King, has pointed to the comparatively low pay within the WNBA as a motive why high gamers typically compete abroad in the course of the U.S. league’s off season to complement their salaries. That features WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was jailed in Russia whereas enjoying there and who beforehand famous in an interview that “the entire motive loads of us go over is the pay hole.”

The WNBA has made strides in selling pay fairness lately. Whereas NBA gamers collectively obtain roughly 50% of the league’s income, WNBA gamers beforehand took dwelling lower than 23%. However that determine jumped to 50% underneath the most recent labor cope with the league. 

But the pay hole in skilled basketball and most different sports activities stays, with solely feminine tennis gamers reaching a measure of fairness. Within the NBA, the minimal rookie wage for the 2022-23 season was $953,000, in response to Spotrac.

Ketra Armstrong, a professor of sports activities administration at Michigan College mentioned that whereas she views Clark as underpaid relative to their expertise, so are many WNBA athletes. 

Girls making waves in sports activities lately


“It is a structural problem, and you’ll’t take a look at salaries in isolation or evaluate them to how a lot the boys make as a result of there are stark variations there,” Armstrong informed CBS MoneyWatch in noting the large revenues the NBA generates, in contrast with the WNBA.

The upshot: For WNBA gamers’ salaries to extend, the league should land greater broadcast offers, safe extra profitable company sponsorships, and promote extra tickets and merchandise. However Armstrong the present second as a possible turning level for the league.

“The Caitlin Clark affect is actual. There’s an power and vibrance touching the WNBA in methods it by no means has earlier than,” she mentioned. “If we are able to get a groundswell enhance in ticket gross sales for all WNBA groups, extra merchandise gross sales, extra media publicity, and extra folks investing, we’ll begin to see motion in income.”

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