If You Can’t Pay Them, Play Them: Fan Preferences and Own-Race Bias in the WNBA

Jill Harris and David J. Berri

During the 2010–2014 seasons, non-white players with non-white coaches played 4.81 fewer minutes per game on average than white players in the WNBA. This difference in playing time is not due to player endowments. A control for the percentage of the white population suggests fan preferences could contribute to coaching decisions about playing time allocation. No evidence of own-race bias is found. As the first investigation into bias in the WNBA, this paper contributes to the growing literature on discrimination in professional sports.