It was Oprah who said it best when she proclaimed “a new day is on the horizon!”
That can perfectly sum up the historic groundbreaking collective bargaining deal that the WNBA released.
The players union and the league itself agreed to a new CBA that would dramatically raise player’s salaries, maternal leave and child care benefits, expanding career opportunities and marketing endeavors, and changes to revenue sharing that would allow players to receive half of the money generated.
According to ESPN.com, the deal will include the following:
- Annual base pay for league’s highest-paid player jumps from $117,500 to $215,000.
- With other benefits, the league’s top players could earn cash compensation in excess of $500,000.
- The agreement is for eight years, from the 2020 through 2027 seasons with a mutual opt-out provision after six years.
- 2020 salary cap will be $1.3 million, up from $996,100 in 2019.
- Players who complete their contracts and have five or more years of service can become unrestricted free agents, unless they are tagged as a “core” player.
- The number of times a player can be tagged as “core” goes from four to three beginning this season, and drops to two beginning with the 2022 season.
- Players will receive full salary while on maternity leave, an annual child care stipend of $5,000, and guarantee of two-bedroom apartments for players with children.
This CBA comes at a critical time in society and culture where female athletes are at the forefront in fighting for equality.
But for those who closely follow the WNBA, it shouldn’t be a surprise that they would be leading the way.
Players have been at the forefront of social justice in sports long before it became common place today.
It was WNBA players Maya Moore, Tina Charles, Tamika Catchings, Swim Cash, and others who stood up and proudly showed solidarity with Black Lives Matters in 2016 in the aftermath of the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
It was Layshia Clarendon and Breanna Stewart who became prominent voices in the #MeToo movement after sharing their stories of surviving sexual assault.
It was Brittney Greiner, Sue Bird, and Layshia who embody what it means to be unapologetically LGBTQ and standing up for LGBTQ rights.
It was Natasha Cloud and the Washington Mystics who won the 2019 title while becoming a team committed to fighting for social justice causes such as combating gun violence.
Now it is Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks who is the WNBA player’s association president whose leadership helped lead to this extraordinary deal.
In a broader sociocultural context, the leadership of this players reflect what has been going on in society.
Many of the prominent leaders in the struggle for equality are black women and LGBTQ women.
These players are attaching themselves to these movements and are creating spaces of unity among themselves and to those on the front lines.
Respect is long overdue and the WNBA is showing what they have been all about for the last 23 years.
Hopefully the rest of society will follow.