With the WNBA’s CBA set to expire after the season — following the Players Association opting out in November — players have been more vocal about issues around the league.
Now we can add a coach to the list.
Los Angeles Sparks head coach Derek Fisher called out the league’s travel accommodations with an Instagram post on Saturday. The picture showed his team at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport with all of its luggage.
As Fisher's caption noted, the Sparks had just came off a major win against the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Lynx and were continuing their road trip while flying commercial.
Fisher’s post drew plenty of support from across the board, including NBA reporters Angel Gray and Kristen Ledlow. More importantly, Las Vegas Aces star Liz Cambage added her voice to the conversation.
As Cambage noted in replying to a comment, WNBA players are required by the CBA to fly coach, as opposed to NBA players, who take private jets. Many WNBA teams have their own jets but are not allowed to use them for players, even if owners and others are already using them.
That Fisher would speak out is especially notable because he is one of the most well-known figures in the league and has little to gain personally by fighting for player’s rights in the upcoming CBA.
What else do WNBA players want changed?
Travel accommodations are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to changes WNBA players want, but it’s certainly an important one.
Taking redeye, cross-country flights when there are better and even cheaper options is unbecoming of the top women’s basketball league in the world. Matters get even worse when considering potential flight delays, including one instance last year when the Aces had to forfeit a late-season game because of cancelled flights.
WNBA players would also like a bigger cut of the pie in terms of salary, considering they only take in approximately 20 percent of league revenues, compared to 50 percent in the NBA. That contributes to the WNBA’s max salary of $117,500, which is seven times less than the NBA’s league minimum.
The lack of earning potential in the WNBA leads most players to play overseas in the offseason. That overstuffed schedule has caused a rash of injuries to star players lately, including 2018 MVP Breanna Stewart.
Players are also hoping for a more player-friendly schedule with fewer back-to-back games and more emphasis on marketing. Teams have struggled to find gyms to practice in — sometimes having to trip over trash — and even find playoff games bumped out of arenas for other events.
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