Opinion | Women’s sports deserve better

The NBA and WNBA “bubbles” are another instance of women’s teams receiving inferior treatment.


Nichole Harris

Iowa guard Kathleen Doyle takes the ball to the hoop during a women’s basketball between Iowa and Wisconsin at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. The Hawkeyes defeated the Badgers 97-71. (Nichole Harris/The Daily Iowan)

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter

Women have been left out of the limelight in professional sports for a long time. It’s time for that to change.

Professional women’s teams get less coverage, pay, and respect compared to their male counterparts. They also get virtually no airtime. A University of Southern California study released in 2015 that spanned three decades found that ESPN’s SportsCenter dedicated less than 2 percent of its airtime to women’s sports, and when it is covered, 81 percent is about women’s basketball.

Many non-game stories made it to ESPN before any women’s game coverage did, including a $25 corndog at an Arizona Diamondbacks game, and a restaurant opened by former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda. There is more coverage of football, men’s basketball, and baseball’s offseasons than there even is of any women’s sports regular seasons.

When Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu became the first basketball player in NCAA history — men’s or women’s — to amass 2,000 points, 1,000 assists, and 1,000 rebounds, many college basketball fans did not even know who she was.

Limited airtime, even of the games of women’s sports, is hurting the relevance and the pay of women in sports. With the eruption of live TV sports, many media companies have spent billions getting the rights to air men’s games.

According to The New York Times, the WNBA currently makes $25 million annually through their TV deal with ESPN. However, the NBA’s deal with ESPN and TNT makes 100 times that. Because of the low TV exposure, women are less likely to get endorsements from national brands.

The differences in revenue from TV deals not only impacts their endorsements and salaries, but also the conditions that the teams live and travel in. The WNBA flies commercially for every game. Every NBA team takes a private charter.

Right now, both NBA and WNBA players are living in a ‘bubble’ in Florida. NBA players are staying in luxury Disney hotels, with the ability to play golf and have special access to Disney parks after hours. In contrast, WNBA players can barely get their needs met. According to the Seattle Times, the villas that WNBA players have been staying in have been infested with bedbugs and worms. Two teams have had to change rooms due to bedbugs.

One argument has been made that women’s sports would have better conditions and better pay if their leagues made more money. While it’s true that men’s leagues do make significantly more in TV rights and endorsements, many media companies and national brands aren’t giving women athletes the time of day. According to Forbes, although there is a seemingly constant stream of male basketball players getting a signature shoe, Nike hasn’t made a signature shoe for a WNBA player for over twenty years.

It’s only one example of national brands shutting out female athletes.

Women’s sports have long been ignored by fans, media companies, and national brands. It’s time to give female athletes the respect that they deserve.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.

Facebook Comments