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Beyond The Bounce

Anaya, Chatsworth International School, Singapore

This is more than a game. This is a passion that motivates in an unexplainable way. This is a dream that is pursued by unwavering determination. This is basketball.

Invented just over 120 years ago, basketball has grown to become one of the most widely played sports in the world, serving as a foundation for athleticism, teamwork, and competition. However, beyond the bounce lies a sport that continues to promote inequality where talent is unseen, voices are muted, and dreams are crushed. While the NBA takes the spotlight, female basketball lingers in the shadows, despite their amazing talent and passion for the game.

I believe you know of Lebron James? and Stephen Curry? But, I am sure you won’t know Breanne Stewart or A’ja Wilson. These players are ranked as some of the best female basketballers in the world.. But their names don’t mean anything. Why?

Imagine pouring your heart and soul every time you step foot on the court, only to feel invisible. Women’s basketball is constricted to the sidelines of television and media outlets, only to be outshined by the innite applause for the men’s game. NBA has a wider broadcasting reach, as it is shown on national channels such as ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV(Janvrin).

Based on this, the discrepancies in viewership between the NBA and WNBAis unimaginably huge. In 2022, the NBA Finals had an average viewership of 12.4 million, with the WNBA being only 412, 000 viewers (Janvrin). Men’s basketball receives extensive media coverage, attracting large crowds and rewarding sponsorships. Additionally, sponsorship of women’s sports accounted for just 0.4% of all sports sponsorships in 2020 (Iacovos). This focus on mens basketball creates a cycle of investment and growth, reinforcing its prominence. Meanwhile, female basketball struggles to gain a following outside the court, met with the harsh reality that the businesses see greater value in men as compared to women. On the other hand, when major media platforms do cover women’s sport, they tend to depict female athletes for their beauty and aesthetics, overshadowing their athletic prowess.

These factors have aggressively contributed to the major pay gap for men and women players. The difference in the average salaries between NBA compared to the WNBA is drastic, with the NBA being $9.6 million, and WNBA being $102,751. This has generated $10 billion revenue for the NBA and $60 million for the WNBA, more than 166 times less (Janvrin). For female players, this isn’t just a matter of dollars and bills, but rather the respect and recognition they deserve. Despite their tireless eorts and incredible skills, their contributions to the game are undervalued because our society sees womens’ sports as secondary to mens.

As a basketball player myself, I strongly believe that it is time to recognize the talent and dedication of female basketball players, as well as the systemic barriers that hold us back. We can all play a part in recognizing and appreciating exceptional talent on the court, regardless of gender. As evidenced by Sabrina Ionescu’s near victory against the greatest shooter of all time, Stephen Curry, in a 3-point shooting contest, competing against a man should not be necessary to display extraordinary skill.

It is time to look beyond the bounce.

Bibliography:

Janvrin, Richard. “NBA vs WNBA: Revenue, Salaries, Viewership, Attendance and Ratings.” World Sports Network, World Sports Network, 7 Mar. 2023, www.wsn.com/nba/nba-vs-wnba/. Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

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