With Brittney Griner now safely back home for the holidays, the conversation has shifted. In an interview with TMZ, ESPN broadcaster Mark Jackson was not asked about her captivity in Russia—but rather why she was there in the first place.
Like many WNBA players, Griner was playing overseas during the offseason because it pays more than her salary in America. Jackson hopes that players in the WNBA can get paid more so they don’t have to play in other countries.
“Hopefully, financially we put these women professional athletes, specifically the WNBA, in position where they don’t have to add additional income to their accounts,” Jackson said.
One possible approach can be seen in another sport. In order to increase the pay of the women’s national team, the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams split all World Cup earnings. The landmark agreement saw U.S. soccer become “the first Federation in the world to equalize FIFA World Cup prize money,” per CNN. The women’s national team made more money from the men reaching the knockout stages of the World Cup this year than when they themselves won the World Cup in 2015 and 2019.
When Jackson was asked if a similar resolution would be ideal between the WNBA and NBA, he quickly shot it down.
“With all due respect, I don’t think that’s fair or that’s the answer,” he said. “I think we need to pay the women more money, obviously.”
Jackson went on to explain that he believes that WNBA players should get paid the same percentage of profits as NBA players do, but added, “Let’s make it right without having to ask someone else.”