Chiney Ogwumike takes some time from her busy career as a Los Angeles Sparks forward and ESPN commentator to chat with Andy about the WNBA’s progress and how she’s using sports to empower other women.
Ogwumike is the Vice President of the WNBA Players Association and shared a recent victory via collective bargaining agreement (CBA) which will go into effect for the 2020-21 season. The 53 percent increase in total cash compensation allotted in the deal will help keep players from going abroad during the off-season and give more opportunities to earn bonuses. Other benefits include maternity leave and mental healthcare.
“This is a time is to invest in women and really see us at our true value,” Ogukmike said.
Although there is still uncertainty about when live sports can resume, Ogwumike is optimistic about the WNBA’s upcoming season and suggests that the relatively small scale of the league (144 players), could help it be one of the first to resume play.
“It could be us. We’re optimistic,” Ogwumike said. “When we come back we’ll be grateful and happy and just really enjoy the opportunity that sports afford us.”
When she’s not hooping, Ogwumike works to promote girls’ sports in Africa. She speaks to girls at her mother’s alma mater in Lagos, Nigeria and works with various organizations to teach basketball, provide supplies, and build basketball courts.
“My representation as a female athlete that has defined norms and expectations goes so far,” Ogwumike said. “I go back and I speak specifically to girls…it’s so important for them to see that they’re not alone in their dreams.”
Ogwumike was introduced to basketball in Houston, Texas and fondly recalls playing H-O-R-S-E with her sisters in the driveway. She joined her big sister Nneka as a member of the Sparks in 2019. Her two younger sisters, Erica and Olivia, are also D1 basketball players at Rice University.
“Basketball has always been a collaborative thing for me and my sisters,” Ogwumike said.
In addition to her athletic career and charitable work, Ogumike works full time as an ESPN commentator and hosts her own podcast, Certified Buckets.
“I do a lot just because I’m very grateful and I understand that, as a woman, we really have to make the most of the platform that basketball has afforded us,” Ogwumike said.
Listen to the full episode here.