Kelsey Plum and her Las Vegas Aces teammates made light of the WNBA All-Star trophy disparity compared to what Steph Curry won, but it’s a weighted topic.
During the NBA Finals, Malika Andrews asked Steph Curry how he felt about comparisons to his hypothetical detainment in Russia to the reality of what WNBA star Brittney Griner has experienced.
Curry called Griner’s situation a “tragedy”, as is the underlying critique behind such comparisons: NBA and WNBA stars are sadly still treated quite differently in various ways.
In a more light-hearted example of that disparity, Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum shined in a 30-point performance on Team Wilson during the WNBA All-Star Game, winning the coveted All-Star MVP award. The award came with a trophy, or as The Athletic’s Lyndsey D’Arcangelo called it, a teacup.
As it turns out, Plum and her Aces teammates endorse that comparison, reenacting the moment with a single-serve juice pouch.
Compared to the NBA All-Star MVP trophy Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry hoisted over his head earlier this year, Plum’s trophy looks like a participation trophy — yet it’s intended to honor the same accomplishment.
Although trophy size may seem insignificant to the casual observer, there is a long history of disparity between men’s and women’s basketball that makes this gaffe particularly odious.
The All-Star trophy disparity between Kelsey Plum, Steph Curry frustrates WNBA fans
There’s been a lot of reflection on the growth of women’s sports during the 50th anniversary of Title IX, yet women’s professional sports leagues in the United States are still relatively young. The WNBA just celebrated 25 years, and the NWSL has been around for a little over a decade, and these are two of the most established women’s sports leagues. Many others consist of fewer teams that see less sponsorship money and television accessibility.
Aside from the pay disparity between the NBA and WNBA (just compare contracts in Phoenix), there’s a major disparity in televised broadcasts and media coverage. Of course, the WNBA is much younger than the NBA, and sports leagues do take time to develop, but the cultural attitudes that value men’s sports over women’s sports persist to this day. The NCAA, which feared that women’s athletics would be a “drain” on men’s athletic resources before Title IX passed, provided a much smaller “weight room” for women during March Madness than what the men were able to access.
As Kershner said, we are once again in a year “defined by a fight for equality.” If size is a reflection of endorsement, interest, and a celebration of women in sports, then that should be reflected in their weight rooms — and their trophies.