Dallas Wings’ Skylar Diggins-Smith harshly criticized the National Basketball Association for the growing gender pay gap that existences among men’s and women’s professional basketball. On Tuesday, Wealthsimple published an article, in which the three-time WNBA All-Star said, “It’s unfortunate that men make more money for the same amount of work, or even less work.”
The 28-year-old pointed out the discrepancies in the percentage of revenue players earn. “Players in the NBA get about 50% of the revenue. For women, the percentage is in the twenties…, which is kind of unbelievable.”
She also revealed that the women in the league do not get a portion of jersey sales; Diggins-Smith has had one of the highest selling jerseys in the WNBA for nearly four years.
“I’m the highest paid player on the Dallas Wings, and my salary is in the low six figures. [Harrison Barnes, the highest paid player on the Dallas Mavericks, made $24 million last season],” the point guard said. She went on to compare her litany of accolades to bench players in the NBA, who likely earn more than women for less work. Despite being a subsidiary of the NBA, the WNBA teams fly commercial. Their salaries are so low that many of them go overseas in the offseason to earn more money. Thus, they are exerting their bodies all-year round.
Diggins-Smith understands the privilege she has as a more popular player in the sport. She is managed by JAY-Z’s Roc Nation, which allowed her to grow mass appeal. The Wings player said women need to fight to for their rights so they can diversify their revenue streams.
“It’s ridiculous,” she exclaimed. “Shame on them not to put us in positions to be successful when we have the best product. Change has to start within our league.” Little to no marketing happens for women’s games, and Diggins-Smith said even when she was a guest host on ESPN, she had to suggest to “The Worldwide Leader in Sports,” that they should discuss the WNBA Finals.
The difference in salary and all around equality in the leagues has been a topic of substantial discussion. Rookie A’Ja Wilson shook up the blogosphere when she blasted the low salaries woman receive in July. Fellow Dallas Wings player Liz Cambage spoke about how her aggressive playing style is harshly criticized because she is a woman. Recently, former NBA star Jalen Rose said WNBA players are treated like “second-class citizens” in comparison to their male counterparts.