Breanna Stewart and Napheesa Collier's new league Unrivaled

Growing The Game, WNBA Stars To Create Offseason League

Two of the WNBA's biggest stars announced that they are creating a new league for women's basketball, Unrivaled, which is set to begin next January.

New York Liberty's Breanna Stewart, heavy contender for this season's MVP award, and Minnesota Lynx's Napheesa Collier are taking the future of women's professional basketball into their own hands. 

What is the upcoming unrivaled league?

The upcoming league is another, much-needed, offseason option for WNBA players. The WNBA just expanded its schedule to 40 games this year, making the entire season run from May to mid-September. 

Currently, the low end of WNBA salaries is a minimum of $62,285 and the league maximum is $234,936. In comparison, the highest NBA salary is Steph Curry's $51.9 million. That discrepancy leaves many professional females both eager to continue playing and earn more money -- rightfully so. 

The main offseason option is for these players to travel overseas and play in international leagues. Stewart, for example, was earning $1.5 million a season in Russia a couple of years ago. 

But, then comes the balancing act of supporting your family, yourself and your career by taking advantage of those opportunities. The downside? Being separated from family, isolation from immersing into an entirely different culture, maternal restrictions and never feeling settled by switching between international and domestic leagues each year. 

Collier traveled to play in France in 2021. Her entry-level contract from 2019 to 2022 was paying her $55,059 a season. In an interview from Just Women's Sports last December, Collier said, "If I'm not making that much in the WNBA, if it's not enough for me to survive off of during the year, I'm going overseas." However, her career overseas ended after giving birth to her daughter in 2022. 10-weeks after Mila's birth, Collier was back on the WNBA's courts.

This is where Unrivaled comes into the picture, a league that extends another option for the athletes. 

How does the unrivaled league work?

Unrivaled, which will be based in Miami, will take place from January to March. It will grab 30 of women's basketball's best and settle them into six different teams. The format will be 3-on-3 and 1-on-1. 

The new league will join Athletes Unlimited, entering its third year of existence, which is another offseason option for the girls that creates space for 44 players. 

Stewart and Collier have expressed hope they will receive enough funding to pay the players around the same amount they get in the WNBA. 

How does unrivaled grow women's basketball?

We've already seen massive jumps in demand and viewership for the WNBA this year. Halfway through the season, broadcasting has seen a 67% increase over the course of the year. ABC, CBS and ESPN are averaging about 556,000 viewers a game. The 2023 All-Star game was the most viewed in six years, raking in an audience of over 730,000. 

That's significant growth that won't want to be stunted. The more advertisement for women's basketball, the better the opportunities for the players and the game in the foreseeable future.

An offseason league will give the potential to keep the game accessible, whether it be broadcasting, social media circulation or in-person attendance, to the ongoing North American audience.

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