US Women’s National team and US Soccer settle equal pay lawsuit
(Football news) It has been a long battle between US Soccer and the US Women’s National football team about the equitable treatment of female players. That struggle is now set to be over as the two have reached a settlement which involves a multimillion-dollar payment to the players and the assurance by the federation for equal pay between the men’s and women’s national football teams.
As part of the agreement, a settlement of $24 million from US Soccer will be distributed amongst past and present players with the bulk of the total sum being spent as “compensation” for years of unequal pay between the men’s and women’s teams. US Soccer has also pledged to equalize pay for both men and women’s national teams in all football competitions which is not just a victory for the sport but also a win for a broader fight for equality for women in the sports industry at large.
In recent times, athletes from other sports such as ice hockey, WNBA players and Olympic gold medallists have also sought guidance from the US Women’s soccer team for better pay and working conditions. As a result, players from Norway, the Netherlands and Australia have seen the soccer federations in their countries committing to closing the pay gap even while the case between US Soccer and the US Women’s national team was ongoing.
“I think it was just extremely motivating to see organizations and employers admit their wrongdoing, and us forcing their hand in making it right,” said Alex Morgan, a striker and former co-captain of the women’s national team. “The domino effect that we helped kick-start — I think we’re really proud of it.”
Despite the significant expenses from the settlement, the biggest price US Soccer has had to pay in this saga has been the damage to their reputation and their sponsors. The federation was winning the battle and in 2020 a federal judge had dismissed the claims for equal pay and had stripped them off their legal leverage with an appeal unlikely to succeed. However, the settlement is an unexpected and an important victory for the players. The settlement does come with one important condition that it’s subject to a new contract between US Soccer and the Players Union which could take months to resolve.
As part of this settlement, the men’s team will have to share and surrender millions of dollars in payment from FIFA for the World Cup as the money given by the football governing body for the men’s tournament is significantly more than what’s provided for the women’s tournament. Cone, a former member of the women’s team said “Moving forward and tying this settlement with the C.B.A. is important for both groups. Because we all believe in equal pay, and the only way we can get there — until FIFA equalizes the World Cup prize money — is for the men’s team, the women’s team and U.S. Soccer to get together and reach an agreement on equalizing it ourselves.”
Staples Center to be renamed Crypto.com Arena in an estimate $700 million deal for 20 years
(Basketball news) The iconic Staples Center in Los Angeles, home to the L.A Lakers, LA Clippers, NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and Women’s NBA’s Los Angeles Sparks will be renamed after being in operation for 22 years to Crypto.com Arena, as announced by arena owners Anschutz Entertainment Group last night. According to multiple reports, it is estimated that the deal would cost $700 million with Crypto.com paying the sum over a 20 year period, however, the financial terms of the deal are not yet made public.
Ever since it opened in 1999, the 20,000 seat venue was named the Staples Center after a 20 year naming rights agreement was reached with American office-supplies retail company Staples Inc. That will end when the Lakers take on the Brooklyn Nets at the NBA’s annual Christmas showcase this December. Headquartered in Singapore, Crypto.com is a cryptocurrency platform which was founded in 2016 and has already invested heavily in the sports landscape globally, signing sponsorship deals with the UFC, Formula 1, Paris Saint-Germain, NHL's Montreal Canadiens and also purchasing the Philadelphia 76ers' uniform sponsorship patch.
The future Crypto.com Arena has been the go-to venue for many major events, not just restricted to sports. The venue has hosted 19 Grammy Awards ceremonies, concerts, important public events such as the memorials of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jackson as well as three NBA All-Star Games and two NHL All-Star Games. In the first three years of operation, the venue saw the Lakers win three successive NBA Championships along with three more in the subsequent years. WNBA team Los Angeles Sparks have also won three WNBA titles at the Staples Center while the Kings have won two Stanley Cup Championships in 2012 and 2014 at the venue.
After being unveiled as the Crypto.com Arena on Christmas Day, owners AEG will spend the next six months swapping the arena’s external signage for the 2022-2023 NBA, WNBA, NHL season. The venue is also said to be used for basketball events at the Olympics 2028 hosted in Los Angeles with Dan Beckerman, CEO of AEG saying “It’s the biggest of stages, we’re in the epicenter of the sports and entertainment world”.
Kyrie Irving needs to be a more responsible role model amidst vaccination debate
(Basketball news) The influence that some of the biggest athletes in sport have on the wider public has never been more powerful than it is today. Cristiano Ronaldo has 355 million followers on Instagram, the most on the social media platform. The younger generation have always wanted to emulate their sporting heroes and with the existence of social media, that urge has only magnified tenfold.
Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving is currently in the middle of a rather public and unhealthy debate about COVID-19 vaccines. Irving is one of the biggest names in the NBA ever since he was the number one draft pick in 2011, he’s more than an athlete, he’s an icon, philanthropist and one of the six vice-presidents of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA). Fittingly, Irving has also admitted to being a “conspiracy theorist” which may explain the underlying reasons behind the current debacle he finds himself in. He has apologized previously for his “earth is flat” comments and has been sharing conspiracies about microchips in the Moderna vaccine on social media.
Taking into account his esteemed position not just as a basketball player but also as a social media influencer, it’s fair to say that Kyrie Irving has been a poor role model for the younger generation. While everyone is entitled to make a “personal choice”, Irving has been publicly vocal about his decision to not take the vaccine, easily influencing the millions of people who look up to him. Publicly denouncing the vaccination can have dangerous, potentially lethal consequences for those who he can influence. COVID-19 is well and truly prevalent in our societies and it’s clear that Irving is swimming against the tide with 95% of NBA athletes already vaccinated.
Former basketball superstar Michael Jordan has publicly sided with the NBA and their COVID-19 protocols. In an interview with NBC’s “TODAY” Jordan said “ I am totally in unison with the league, and I think everybody, you know, has been speaking about the vaccinations. And, you know, I’m a firm believer in science and, you know, I’m going to stick with that and hopefully everybody abides by whatever the league sets the rules. I think once everybody buys in, we’re going to be fine.”
Jordan isn’t the only one as fellow Hall of Famer Abdul-Jabbar told Rolling Stone, “There is no room for players who are willing to risk the health and lives of their team-mates, the staff and the fans simply because they are unable to grasp the seriousness of the situation or do the necessary research" while Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard said getting vaccinated was a “simple decision”.
While the NBA has not implemented a vaccine mandate for players, labelling the public issue as a ‘personal’ decision for each player, the problem lies when the decision being made is not “personal” anymore. Irving took to Instagram Live to say “Do what's best for you, but I am not an advocate for either side. I am doing what's best for me. I know the consequences here, and if it means that I'm judged and demonised for that, that's just what it is, that's the role I play.”
Irving is willing to pay a heavy price for his decision, $380,000 per game to be exact and with 41 home games in a regular season, the total amounts to $15.6m. However, the biggest price that could be paid might be from all the individuals who choose not to get vaccinated because their basketball hero isn’t getting a jab either.
Fans vote Diana Taurasi as greatest ever WNBA player
(Basketball news) Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi has been voted the league's greatest of all time (GOAT) by the fans. The ‘Vote for the GOAT’ was a part of the WNBA’s celebration for it’s landmark 25th season and Taurasi was announced as the greatest player in WNBA history ahead of Game 1 of the WNBA finals 2021.
WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said “Congratulations to Diana Taurasi on being voted as the Greatest WNBA player of all time by the fans who have followed her illustrious career and saw her rise above the rest. This well-deserved recognition reflects her sustained excellence on the court and her leading role in advancing the WNBA and women's basketball and being a role model for young athletes everywhere. The opportunity to honor Dee is yet another special moment in celebration of our historic 25th season."
Taurasi has achieved many records in the WNBA, most notably, she is the league’s career leader in points, field goals made and three-point field goals in the regular season and playoffs. Nobody in the league's history has as many All WNBA Team selections than Taurasi (14) and she is tied in second place with 10 WNBA All-Star selections.
Taurasi has a legacy at Phoenix Mercury, having spent the entirety of her 17 year long WNBA career and winning three WNBA Championships and two WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player awards. Since her selection at the 2004 WNBA draft, she has averaged 19.4 points, 4.3 assists and 4.0 rebounds in 472 games and has earned one regular season WNBA MVP award.
The voting to determine the greatest WNBA player was conducted on WNBA.com, Twitter and WNBA app between September 5th to 19th. It included 10 current players, namely Sue Bird, Tina Charles, Elena Delle Donne, Sylvia Fowles, Brittney Griner, Angel McCoughtry, Nneka Ogwumike, Candace Parker, Breanna Stewart and Diana Taurasi. The list also included 15 retired players such as Seimone Augustus, Swin Cash, Tamika Catchings, Cynthia Cooper, Yolanda Griffith, Becky Hammon, Lauren Jackson, Lisa Leslie, Maya Moore, Ticha Penicheiro, Cappie Pondexter, Katie Smith, Sheryl Swoopes, Tina Thompson and Lindsay Whalen.
Taurasi will receive a one-of-a-kind commemorative trophy, a basketball made up of resin and marble with white mamba scales and inscriptions recognizing her achievements for being named the GOAT.
Virtual development program launched by NBA Academy for top female prospects from outside the US
NEW YORK– The National Basketball Association (NBA) on Tuesday launched the NBA Academy Women’s Virtual Program, an eight-week basketball and leadership development program for over 40 of the top female, high-school age (14-17 years old) prospects from outside the USA.
Under the guidance of current and former WNBA players and the NBA Academy Staff, participants will join with their peers from across the globe and participate in basketball and life skills development programming.
Any parent or legal guardian interested in submitting an application on behalf of their child should submit their child’s HomeCourt profile or upload a skills video as outlined in the application form on the NBA Academy website by June 18. NBA Academy Women’s Virtual Program participants will be announced in June, with the program starting in July and running through August.
As part of the program’s on-court curriculum, participants will be provided with weekly virtual basketball lessons, instructions and challenges featuring present and former WNBA athletes. The interactive lessons will feature a range of shooting, ball handling and conditioning drills to promote holistic skill development. The best performing players will be considered for in-person basketball development camps and showcases in future.
The life skills programming will include weekly sessions focusing on leadership development, nutrition, goal setting, personal branding, mental health and wellness, player pathway education and women’s empowerment. Sessions will have guest speakers and experts from across the NBA and WNBA family, including NBA Academy Women’s Program Global Technical Director and 1996 Olympic Gold Medallist Jennifer Azzi.
“The NBA Academy Women’s Virtual Program will continue our mission of helping young women around the world develop as people and players,” said Azzi. “International players are making a significant impact at all levels of the women’s game, and this program will help top international prospects connect with their peers, learn directly from WNBA players and continue their development.”
25 participants have committed to NCAA Division I schools since the launch of NBA Academy Women’s Program in 2018. Han Xu from China became the first NBA Academy Women’s program participant to be drafted into the WNBA when she was chosen 14th overall by the New York Liberty in the 2019 WNBA Draft.