There’s a famous quote that says a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Since the WNBA’s inception in 1997, the journey to respect, equality, and relevance has been long and a fight every step of the way. Yet, January 14th, 2020 may mark its first time jogging towards those goals with the announcement of the WNBA’s new collective bargaining agreement.
The eight-year agreement between the WNBA and the WNBAPA, its player’s association, is littered with benefits of major and minor proportions. The biggest change is the long-awaited financial upgrades for the players. Before this agreement, the average WNBA player made around $70,000 a year. After the agreement, the average WNBA player will now make $130,000, with the best players having the opportunity to earn over $500,000. This will be the very first time in WNBA history that the players will be making six figures.
This deal didn’t just take care of the everyday player’s pocket but also took care of the actual woman, making an emphasis to improve the mental health resources around the league and improving their domestic violence program. The deal also makes sure to take care of the present and future mothers in the league. For the first time, players will receive their full salary while on maternity leave and are guaranteed a childcare stipend of $5000 dollars as well as a two-bedroom apartment. These are major improvements that show the voices of the players are being heard and respected. Other perks in this agreement include each player receiving an individual hotel room, an upgrade from coach flights to the premium economy class, and mandatory legroom on those plane rides.
Words like historic and groundbreaking have been used to describe this deal and its impact on the future of the WNBA and women’s sports in general. Those words do not come across as hyperbolic when looking back to 1997 when there were only eight teams and players made the same amount of money as the average accountant. January 14th, 2020 marks a day of substantial progress that looks to be an important stepping stone for future deals to come and future women to come.