Basketball star Brittany Griner’s politically charged entanglement in Russia might put different athletes on pause whereas pursuing contracts in authoritarian states, although sports activities observers say financial necessity drives them to hunt alternatives overseas .

And till that modifications, gamers being provided a greater alternative elsewhere could also be tempted to pursue it regardless of the dangers.

Griner, a 31-year-old WNBA star, was flying to Russia every winter to play basketball—reportedly banking a $1 million American paycheck, greater than quadruple what she made again house.

Matt Slan, founder and CEO of Slan Sports activities Administration, a Toronto-based firm that represents basketball gamers, informed CBC Information that Griner’s story is more likely to function “a harsh warning signal” for different athletes, however not essentially That might be a complete deterrent to play. in equal authoritarian jurisdiction.

Griner was sentenced this week to 9 years in jail for drug possession in Russia. The best ranges of the US authorities say they’re actively preventing for his launch.

As rich states from Russia to China and Saudi Arabia search to broaden their footprints in skilled sports activities, the lure of upper salaries might proceed to attract some athletes away from democracy, commerce observers stated, regardless of Griner’s imprisonment. .

look | Griner sentenced to 9 years

Basketball star Brittany Griner sentenced to 9 years in Russian jail for drug

WNBA star Brittany Griner has been sentenced to 9 years in Russian jail for drug possession and trafficking – a politically charged transfer condemned by US President Joe Biden.

Griner’s sentence got here with a conviction for drug possession and smuggling – his belongings discovered belonging to a wipe cartridge containing hashish oil. He informed a Russian courtroom that he had inadvertently packed them.

Michael Narain, an affiliate professor of sports activities administration at Brock College in St. Catharines, Ont., stated it’s “extraordinarily unlucky what is occurring to Ms. Griner, who sees her as “collateral harm” within the wider stress between Russia and Russia. Let’s have a look at in

Narayan stated his case has been watched intently by the sports activities world – and its implications are sinking.

“It is one thing that is on the minds of athletes,” he stated.

Higher cash overseas, extra roster spots

Observers stated athletes desirous to play in leagues away from house are normally doing so due to pay.

The identical was the case for Griner, who, like different WNBA gamers, went to Russia to complement his earnings.

A picture of Griner is seen on a video board throughout a rally held on the Footprint Heart in Phoenix final month. (Christian Peterson/Getty Photographs)

Narain stated this actuality sends athletes searching for higher alternatives, not simply in Russia.

“There is a cause skilled ladies’s basketball gamers go to play in Australia, Russia, Lithuania, you identify it,” she stated.

That is in distinction to a lot of their male counterparts within the NBA, he stated, as they make far extra money at house.

The president of the Ladies’s Nationwide Basketball Gamers Affiliation, Neneka Ogwumike, stated that that is the explanation why Griner performed in Russia.

“The fact is he is over there due to a gender challenge – pay fairness,” Ogwmike informed ABC good Morning AmericaEarlier this yr, noting that he additionally performed basketball in Russia.

As of Friday, studies point out that Moscow is open to discussing a proposed prisoner swap that will convey Griner and one other imprisoned American house in alternate for a convicted Russian arms seller.

However it’s not clear when and if this may occur.

In the case of forcing athletes to maneuver abroad, Slan stated one other issue is that there are solely so many roster spots within the large leagues in North America.

This implies athletes might must make powerful decisions about the place to pursue their careers.

“There are 144 WNBA roster spots and 510 NBA roster spots,” he stated. “Out of those prime leagues, among the prime paying groups on the earth reside in international locations like China and Russia.”

And it isn’t simply the sport of basketball that’s providing extra profitable alternatives.

“China is a kind of jurisdictions the place athletes go to play to get their paychecks, the place they will reside comfortably,” stated Narayan from Brock College. There are alternatives for Canadians to play hockey and different sports activities.

wider world outdoors the sport

Slain, whose firm has seen clients play in 40 international locations world wide, stated he appears to be like on the broader context when weighing worldwide choices for patrons.

“I attempt to absolutely put together my purchasers for each scenario,” he defined, and assessing the dangers is a part of that course of.

Nevertheless, as her purchasers have realized, the sudden can occur.

“I had purchasers taking part in in Ukraine final season, proper earlier than the Russian invasion,” Slain stated.

“Whereas previous to the season, there was no option to perceive {that a} Russian invasion was imminent, I used to be in a position to information my purchasers safely in another country and out of hurt’s method.”

Andrew Zimbalist, professor emeritus of economics at Smith Faculty in Northampton, Mass., stated the Griner case might immediate athletes to think about extra alternatives in leagues that function in democratic international locations.

“To begin with, if I had been a participant agent, I’d use all my powers to cease them from taking part in in Russia and I’d have warned them about taking part in in different authoritarian international locations,” Zimbalist stated by way of e mail. “Second, leagues will change into extra enticing in democracies.”

Slane agrees – and stated that security and financial stability are key components that have to be weighed when athletes determine the place to play.

“International locations like Germany and France have change into extra enticing,” Slain stated. “They could not pay as a lot as among the different leagues, however they’re secure and the gamers pay on time. There may be worth in that.”

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