Brittany Griner will never be able to make as much money in her basketball career as LeBron James earns in a year. Perhaps this is fair, a simple matter of supply and demand. Sports capitalism is working in the United States.
It is also true that the freedom of Griner, who was detained in Russia for more than four months on drug possession charges, is not valued as much as the welfare of James in the United States. And this is absolutely wrong, a sign of how emotionally bankrupt we can be in this country.
At 6-feet-9, Griner is one of the all-time heavyweights in American basketball history, leading Baylor to a championship in college, winning the WNBA title with the Phoenix Mercury and twice winning Olympic gold for his country’s glory. Claimed.
But he has three strikes against the way many Americans value our sports heroes. Griner is Black, Gay and Female.
Griner has been jailed in Russia, facing the prospect of 10 years in prison and trial by customs officers at an airport in Moscow for being caught with vape canisters containing 0.7 grams of cannabis oil in his luggage. has been put in.
“If it was LeBron, he would be at home, right?” Speaking the truth is hard to deny in a country where compassion and justice lean heavily in favor of the rich and famous, Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard said during a post-game news conference earlier this month.
“It’s a statement about a black man’s worth. It’s a statement about a gay man’s worth. All those things. We know it, and so it hurts a little more.”
Griner has pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis used to deal with chronic pain. Medical marijuana is not legal in Russia. So let this be a warning to anyone who has ever packed up in a hurry for a business trip.
In a handwritten letter to President Joe Biden, Griner voiced her greatest fear: “When I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey or any achievement Without her protection, I fear I may stay here forever.”
He is detained as a pawn in Russia in tension with the United States as a result of the raging war in Ukraine. Griner has been bombarded at home for refusing to stand for the national anthem in protest against racism.
The economic reality of the basketball business is why Griner has played in Russia since 2014, as his estimated $1 million salary with UMMC Ekaterinburg is four times the $227,000 he earned as a perennial All-Star for the Mercury in the United States. is paid as
By comparison, James has made over $120 million during the past calendar year from his salary with the Los Angeles Lakers, as well as more lucrative off-court business ventures. Forbes estimates his net worth to be over $1 billion. It’s good to be King James.
While it can be frustratingly difficult to find gender equality in the everyday workplace, it’s hard to make the case that the entertainment value provided by Griner can come anywhere close to competing with the audience James is attracted to in everything he does. does, from dunking basketballs to endorsing soda pop to starring in a grade-B movie.
So I will not demand that Griner deserves more money to play basketball.
But I’m certainly not the first and hopefully won’t be the last to ask: Why don’t we care more about bringing Griner back to the United States?
We are not obligated to pay all our sports heroes equally.
But, as kind-hearted Americans, shouldn’t we all be cheering for Griner’s safe homecoming?