Monday, August 08, 2022

Celebrated, Not Neglected

The ignorance or bias is astounding: 

I’ll never forget that the reason Brittney Griner was in another country in the first place is because she wasn’t being paid equitably in the WNBA. This is about race, hostage, sexuality, gender, and especially pay gaps. But we’d rather be mad at her for having cannabis oil

This is about hostage- just as is Paul Whelan, arrested in Russia in December of 2018 and sentenced  in June, 2020 to eighteen years, is about "hostage."

However, Paul Whelan is white, male, and straight. Few people knew of him, and even fewer cared about him, until Griner's arrest. Very few individuals, at least publicly, are irate at the basketball star for the hashish oil she allegedly possessed, even though the arrest will facilitate the Russian effort to extract concessions from the USA.

To repeat: Paul Whelan is white, male, and straight and- probably most importantly- was not a basketball star. He was not earning $221,000 when he was picked up in Moscow, nor was he there for the opportunity to earn more than $1 million, as were Griner and other WNBA greats.. The American government hasn't completely ignored his plight, but many prominent Americans have.

Of course, there is a pay gap between WNBA stars and NBA stars. The latter play a longer year and bring to their extremely wealthy employers- team owners and the league- far more income. They have impressive market power and are paid much more, while contributing less to society, than the average American worker. 

So the pay gap between in salaries is between men who are paid exorbitantly and women, who with a minimum salary of $60,000 are paid a little more than the median American wage. Moreover, as reported here, the WNBA maintained after the last collective bargaining agreement was signed that "players could earn up to $500,000 in a season with bonuses, tournament play and team marketing deals added to the base salary."

They are not lining up at food banks. And Britney Griner, with a quite substantial income, wasn't abroad because she's oppressed in the USA. Were she not a) female; b) gay; c) black; d) an accomplished athlete; or e) some combination of the above, we would have heard no more about her than we did of good old what's his name.

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