June 28th, 2022
Women’s (lack of) Rights: Brittney Griner’s Unlawful Detention is Another Example of Inequality in our Country
In a week where women’s rights have been at the forefront of the minds of our nation, let’s stay on topic, but talk about another aspect of this subject. It was determined today that WNBA superstar Brittney Griner could be detained by Russia for another 6 months for allegedly having vape cartridges with hashish oil in her luggage while traveling. The US State Department has classified her as being “wrongfully detained” by Russia. Yet it appears as though very little has been done by our government to secure her release since she was detained on February 17, over four months ago.
Does anyone really think that if this happened to Stephen Curry or Tom Brady that our government would continue to allow this to happen as their teams made their way through their seasons with their star player wrongfully detained in another country? Not a chance. But then again, those players are men. And public outrage would be through the roof.
Which perhaps leads us to why this situation exists in the first place. The inequality of pay between professional male and female athletes in the United States is shocking. My daughter Alexis did a social studies project a few years ago on this disparity between NBA and WNBA players. I was astounded by the numbers. Unfortunately, these inequities in pay force many of the top female professional players to play internationally, in some cases in addition to playing in the WNBA. Even doing this (sometimes playing year round and putting extra strain on their bodies) doesn’t allow them to make a fraction of the money that their male counterparts make. So, here we are — Brittney Griner, in a foreign country, trying to earn a fraction of what she would earn if she was a man, wrongfully detained, and our country being unable or unwilling to secure her release.
We can and must do better for our female athletes. Until we do, sports will continue to be another area in which women in our country are treated as less than equals.