Politics have been jammed into the world of sports.
A big reason why is because sports media coverage has moved wildly to the left.
And a former ESPN host blamed one athletes’ imprisonment on something shocking.
WNBA star Brittney Griner is currently rotting in a Russian prison after getting caught at the airport with vapes and other drug paraphernalia.
Instead of blaming Russia for taking an American prisoner as a leverage play during an international crisis, former ESPN host Jemele Hill took aim at America.
Hill, who parted ways with ESPN after her anti-Trump rhetoric made her wildly unpopular, wrote in The Atlantic:
“The Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner is one of the most dominant WNBA players ever. Yet now she’s in custody in Russia—a predicament that not only threatens her safety amid a major global crisis but also exposes the inferior status of professional women’s basketball in America.”
Griner could face up to ten years in prison on drug trafficking charges, but Hill took the opportunity to blame America for not caring enough about women’s basketball.
“Griner is reportedly earning more than $1 million to play for her Russian team, UMMC Ekaterinburg. In the WNBA, her base salary with the Mercury for this past season was $221,450. Russia wouldn’t be a tantalizing option for America’s best women’s basketball players if they could earn more at home and be treated with the same professional respect as NBA players. It is damning that teams in oppressive countries such as Russia and China—another opportune marketplace for women’s basketball players—place a higher value on players such as Griner than the teams in her own country do.”
This is absurd on multiple levels.
First, it’s ridiculous to complain about Griner “only” making $221,450, which would put her well within the top 10% of earners in the country.
That also does not include endorsement deals.
After being drafted in 2013, Griner signed a deal with Nike that she described as “big time.”
The NBA subsidizes the WNBA; it’s a loss leader.
That means WNBA players are already getting paid above market value.
WNBA players are unfortunately not going to get the “same professional respect” as NBA players because they essentially play a different sport with a different level of fan interest.
“Ekaterinburg became a powerhouse because its billionaire owner, Iskander Makhmudov—who is reportedly close to Putin—has spent lavishly to draw top players. In addition to paying them well above what the WNBA pays, his team gives players such perks as chartered flights, personal drivers, and luxury hotel accommodations for away games. But those perks will likely provide little consolation to other American players on the Ekaterinburg team, such as Courtney Vandersloot and Jonquel Jones, if Russian authorities send Griner to jail.”
If a shady Russian oligarch wants to buy a championship team for bragging rights, that’s his business, but that doesn’t mean it makes financial sense for WNBA owners, which it does not.
Also, Hill glossed over the fact that the “progressive” billionaire paying Griner’s salary is also close with Vladimir Putin.
The United States affords Griner civil rights and allows her to be in the top 10% of earners (and likely higher with endorsement deals).
That is a great deal considering the economic realities of the WNBA, but Hill and other leftists do not have any gratitude for the country.