WNBA star forward, Chiney Ogwumike signed a multi-year contract with ESPN as a full-time basketball analyst and will continue her career playing for the Connecticut Sun.
The 26 year old has been with the network part-time for the past three years, getting her first opportunity after suffering a knee injury, forcing her to miss the entire 2015 WNBA season.
While rehabbing her injury, Ogwumike filled in on ESPN’s His and Hers as well as First Take. The former WNBA Rookie of the Year award winner was again sidelined for the 2017 season due to injury and helped ESPN launch SportsCenter Africa.
Now, healthy for the 2018 WNBA season, Ogwumike will continue her basketball and broadcasting career in a full-time role, contributing to multiple ESPN platforms including regular appearances on SportsCenter and The Jump.
Working for ESPN full-time while playing a professional sport will certainly be difficult, but Ogwumike will mostly cover the NBA which plays the majority of its season during her off-season. People ask, “How are you going to be a full time WNBA player and a full time NBA analyst?’ Well, technically those things only overlap for one month,” Ogwumike told Essence.com.
For some professional female basketball players, a second job is necessary. WNBA players are not highly compensated, forcing many of the league’s athletes to find jobs during the off-season, or play in another country where the pay is generally more than it is in the United States.
“Everyone knows we don’t get paid as much as the men, granted we only play one-third of the NBA season. But the reality is, WNBA players are underpaid, which means your number one option as a player is to go and play overseas where they pay two to three times more than what we make in the WNBA,” Ogwumike said.
From the ESPN release , Ogwumike expressed her excitement in joining the network full-time. “I am beyond thrilled to continue to grow with ESPN in this expanded role. I am extremely fortunate to be able to play at the highest level of women’s professional basketball while also contributing as a diverse voice to the worldwide leader in sports. It is truly the best of both worlds, being able to pursue my passions both on and off the court.”
Ogwumike also understands there is a need for younger females to see people they can relate to when watching sports, “My hope is to inspire the rising generation, especially young girls, to continue to defy expectations and create their own path,” she said
In an industry largely dominated by white males, men and women from all backgrounds should be featured in sports coverage to reach a broader audience. Being a minority on television doesn’t worry her, Ogwumike told Essence “I don’t feel any pressure because being young, female, African, and being there is already a win.” She continued, “People may be quicker to judge when you’re not what they expect, but I’m really excited to prove people wrong.”