Visualizing the Gap

The NBA and WNBA wage gap explained via professional chess, Major League Soccer, and “Hero Ball”

Josh Strupp
Mar 10 · 13 min read

Meet Anthony and Natasha.

Each bar represents the share of any given stat category owned by a single player. For example, Anthony Davis takes 23.7% of all FGs on his team; Natasha Howard takes 22.5% of all FGs on her team. Blue represents players on the New Orleans Pelicans (NBA) and yellow represents players on the Seattle Storm (WNBA). Numbers adjusted for differences in game duration. All stats are from the 2018–2019 NBA season and the 2019 WNBA season.
Visualized percentage differences in gender wage gap for the entire US workforce, professional basketball only (i.e. NBA is men, WNBA is women) and two players in each of the respective basketball leagues that play alike.

What constitutes “appropriate” compensation?

Range plot that highlights each league’s average player salary and how much revenue they give to each player (or total league revenue divided by total number of league players). Note: There is another major female sports league — the National Women’s Soccer League — but their maximum salary is so low ($50,000) and financial figures inaccessible so they were omitted from this data.

Professional basketball and professional chess have more in common than you think.

Table breakdown for major American sports leagues’ and the English Premier League (EPL) team and player totals, how much money they make, and how much of that money is allocated to their players.

Is viewership to blame for the revenue disparity?

Is it a coincidence that the only major female sports team is dead last in revenue?

League share of total professional basketball sponsorship revenue, total per-game cable viewership, and total in-game attendance. The NBA‘s sponsorship revenue is about 100x the WNBA’s; the NBA’s cable viewership is 88x the WNBA’s; and the NBA’s in-game attendance is 62x the WNBA’s.

Basketball is a game designed by and for men.

The same game played with an entirely different strategy: equitable ball distribution.

Histogram showing distribution of players’ points per game.
Arrow plot revealing per-stat differences in percentage of players who are above the league average in that given stat category. The right side of the line is the WNBA; the left is the NBA. If an arrow faces right, the WNBA has more players than the NBA that are above average. Left facing arrows mean the opposite.

In conclusion: get involved.

Nightingale

The Journal of the Data Visualization Society

Thanks to Senthil Natarajan

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Josh Strupp

Written by

writer / designer / data scientist / corrupt politician / joshstrupp.com

Nightingale

The Journal of the Data Visualization Society

Josh Strupp

Written by

writer / designer / data scientist / corrupt politician / joshstrupp.com

Nightingale

The Journal of the Data Visualization Society

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