The NBA and WNBA work on completely different economic scales, but it is always eye-opening to see just how much separation there is between the two leagues. Could you imagine NBA players flying coach and having to pay for baggage fees? Of course not. But that is the way of life in the WNBA.
As detailed in a story from The Indy Star, the Indiana Fever fly like many of us probably do; by grabbing whatever seat is available once their boarding section gets to step foot on a Southwest Airlines flight.
“It’s a pain in the ass,” Candice Dupree said to Indy Star reporter James Briggs. “You never know if you’re gonna be stuck in the middle seat.”
I know I hate sitting in the middle seat on a flight. I can only imagine the frustration a tall basketball player would feel under those conditions. But such is life as a WNBA star. Despite the league being around for 21 seasons, WNBA franchises still have to cut corners where they can without the luxuries and the revenue available to NBA franchises. Economically, it makes sense. The NBA is, in terms of television revenue and branding, a superior product, and on a level the WNBA may never reach despite the best efforts in place to promote the league.
Traveling in the air is one area the league actually restricts teams. As noted by the Indy Star, the WNBA does not allow teams to take charter flights because not every franchise can afford to do so, thus creating an equal playing field. That means flying commercial and having to deal with the hassles that come with it, like security checks and baggage fees. And with an average salary of $77,000 to fall back on, WNBA players are forced to budget a bit more tightly than NBA players making an average of $7.1 million.
After two decades in operation, it may be amazing to learn just how much the WNBA continues to lag behind other sports brands. We can understand the WNBA may not be busting on the national scene to become one of the top four leagues in existence, but it is amazing the league has continued to make it a reality where basketball players have to fight for overhead storage and check in early to avoid getting a middle seat on their next flight.
[Indy Star/Photo: Indiana Fever]