WNBA players, with a maximum base salary of about $230,000, make far less than their millionaire counterparts in the NBA, making marketing dollars even more important. The WNBA has a $1 million fund that it must spend on player marketing deals, and each team must spend between $50,000 and $100,000 per year on player marketing deals. Any unspent funds carry over to the next season above the minimum.
The league said it selects players to participate in marketing efforts based on a variety of factors: performance on the field, an established personal brand with an active fan base and willingness to travel and participate in league events.
“Ideas about bodies show up most clearly in athletes’ bodies — harmful ideas as well as positive ideas,” Jackson said. “That’s another way that it can be a space of conflict and a place of harm, depending on how these ideas are packaged and marketed.”
“They have no idea what a black woman goes through, let alone an athlete.”
Tiffany Mitchell likes the feel of her ponytail swinging as she rules the court.
Mitchell, who is black, has often worn his hair in a long, braided style past his waist since he played at South Carolina from 2012 to 2016. Such a protective hairstyle allows it to last between restorations and prevent breakage during brushing. season with the WNBA’s Indiana Fever.
Those moving ligaments became an issue during the WNBA’s off-season in December when she played for the Melbourne Boomers, a professional women’s team in Australia. Basketball Australia, the sport’s governing body, said league players must tie their hair back or up, mistaking the policy for a FIBA rule that is no longer in effect. Mitchell, one of three black players on the Boomers’ roster, felt targeted because he had never had to change his hair for other international competitions. Basketball Australia later apologized and rescinded what it called a “discriminatory” policy.
“They have no idea what a black woman goes through, let alone an athlete,” Mitchell said. So I guess I brought it to their attention, feigning ignorance, because there were players in this league who had braids before me and it was never an issue.