Professional. It implies that somebody is not only competent at their job, but also being a paid a living wage based on that their competency. In truth, it provides an air of authenticity to anybody who is able to successfully wield it. Unfortunately, for most NWSL players that word can hardly be used. And that's not a slight against the players themselves, who I have no doubt are talented enough for it, but rather their paychecks.
According to a recent conference call with the league executive director, Cheryl Bailey, the players' salaries within the NWSL will range from $6,000 - $30,000. On the high end you're making somewhere around $15 per hour. On the low end... well, let's just say that under normal hourly paid wages, those numbers would be entirely illegal.
Of course, there are valid reasons for offering low wages, especially in this first year.
First, there is no television deal. Teams are relying on and paying their way through ticket sales, ad sales at venues (possibly), and sponsorships.
Second, the WUSA and WPS both recently folded under the weight of too many bills to pay, one of those being high salaries for players.
Finally, for the league's premier players, the federations of Canada, US, and Mexico are still paying wages for the players who would perhaps command and demand a bit more.
Still, the wages being paid by the NWSL don't offer much and give a big reason why some players such as the Thorns' Tobin Heath and Amber Brooks opted to play for Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich, respectively. According to a report by The Equalizer, Megan Rapinoe, who currently plies her trade with Olympique Lyon, is earning about $14,000 per month. That's more than many NWSL-ers will earn in a year.
It's a sticky situation for the clubs. How do you manage the best possible product on the field while mitigating your risk off it? With two very recent league failures in the back of everybody's mind, there's no doubt that they're casting a long shadow over the NWSL. It's going to take a long while and many, many successes before it can emerge from under it.
What do you think of the NWSL salaries? Too low? About right?