Within five days earlier this month, two female soccer players – Catarina Macario and Trinity Rodman – announced their respective decisions to forego the balance of their college eligibility and go pro. The news was eye catching as historically few female soccer players have dropped out of school early (Mallory Pugh and Sophie Smith are exceptions). However, a conversation with sports economist David Berri (professor of economics at Southern Utah University) found that the number of athletes enrolling for the pros before their college eligibility expires also increases as their interest and investment in women’s games increase . “Women’s sport is getting bigger and bigger, so the financial one [incentive to leave early] will just get bigger, “he said.

Our opinion: To be clear, while it is unusual for female athletes participating in a team sport to explain early, tennis players, swimmers, gymnasts and figure skaters have been doing this for years. We don’t see female basketball players leaving early as the WNBA bylaws prevent potential individuals under the age of 22 from being included in the draft (and few sub-students are 22 years old). As for women soccer players, it has only really become a viable option to go pro in the last few years. Before that, there was no stable domestic league to play in. At least not one with the dynamism that the NWSL is now maintaining.

It is important to note that the circumstances in which Macario and Rodman make decisions vary widely. Macario, who played three seasons at Stanford, would have exhausted her college eligibility if the Pac-12 conference played soccer last fall. One of the best prospects for advancement in college in decades, the Brazilian recently made her first appearance at USWNT and landed a deal for French powerhouse Lyon next season. The financial terms of Macario’s 2.5-year contract were not disclosed. Dr. Carlos Gomez (Post-Doctorate Research Fellow, University of Zurich) said, however, that the club has some international stars who earn “between 300,000 and 400,000 euros per year”. As a professional, Macario can also benefit from participating in the USWNT.

The story goes on

Rodman, a POSTK currently playing on the U-20 national team, is a top prospect himself, but thanks to COVID-19, which is forcing the Washington state to postpone the fall season, the freshman was never able to qualify for an NCAA Qualify game. Washington State University head coach Todd Shulenberger said the uncertainty caused by the pandemic had influenced the player’s decision to leave early. “The instability of the conference [season] and the NCAA tournament made them think now is the time to go, ”he said. The opportunity to become the youngest female footballer ever drafted into the NWSL and Rodman’s realization that “college just isn’t for her” also played a role. Trinity Rodman, daughter of Basketball Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman and Michelle Moyer, was selected by the Washington Spirit with the second overall selection in last week’s draft. For reference, the NWSL’s maximum salary is $ 50,000 per year, but Shulenberger suggested that it would be possible for the player to earn six-figure sums in her rookie season after considering incentive-based advertising deals and appearances on the national team.

Despite the different circumstances, Berri sees the recent Macario and Rodman announcements – along with Smith last year – as the start of an emerging trend. “[Players leave school early] in sports where there is a need to generate income. And what we see in women’s football is with the development of women’s sports and football leagues around the world, [player] The incomes rise. “Shulenberger didn’t deny that the trendline appears to be leaning towards more players leaving early. But he didn’t mean to say it will become the norm. It remains to be seen how the ability to earn advertising money while studying (assuming NIL legislation is passed at some point) will affect future decisions.

Unlike NWSL clubs, which are independently owned, many of the high profile “professional teams around the world are part of larger organizations with clubs in multiple sports leagues,” Berri explained. And since WWC 2019, several of these organizations have devoted more resources to strengthening their respective women’s football programs. While this is undoubtedly good news for young players, it is unclear what this means for the NWSL’s position as the premier women’s football league in the world. If there is significantly more money to be made in Europe, the NWSL may struggle to keep the best American players in the States. Should the wage gap widen, Berri predicts there will be a “flight of American football players” [abroad]. ”

I’m not sure. Women basketball players can make more than $ 500,000 a year overseas, and yet we haven’t seen any underclassmen chasing those dollars. Dr. Karen Weaver (Graduate School, University of Pennsylvania) said she also feels that the majority of American players feel “if [they] Then leave the NWSL [they’ll] I never have a league to stay at home and play in. “It should be noted that players can play both abroad and for an NWSL club (provided that the seasons do not overlap). You don’t necessarily have to choose one or the other.

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