Half of the Los Angeles Sparks team was forced to sleep at an airport Sunday night following a victory against the Washington Mystics, according to a video that Nneka Ogwumike posted to her verified Twitter account early Monday morning.
In the video, Ogwumike, a forward with the Sparks, is seen walking with a face mask and talking into the camera to provide an update about the team's travel issues.
"Yeah, so, we are roaming the airport," Ogwumike said in the video. "It's the first time in my 11 seasons that I've ever had to sleep in the airport, but based on travel, it's not (unexpected) that this has happened. It was only a matter of time. So half of us are sleeping in the airport, half of us are at a hotel; there weren't enough rooms after our flight got delayed, delayed, delayed and then canceled at 1 a.m.
"So, it is now 1:44 and we're here until 9 a.m."
— Nneka Ogwumike (@nnekaogwumike) August 8, 2022
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The Sparks defeated the Mystics 79-76 in the final leg of a four-game road trip that also saw the team play in New York and Atlanta. The Sparks are next scheduled to play on Tuesday at home against the Connecticut Sun.
According to the collective bargaining agreement, WNBA teams are required to fly commercial and are not allowed to fly on charter planes, in an effort to keep competitive balance. The 2020 CBA presented an upgrade over the previous one in which it was required that players and staff fly in "premium economy (or similar enhanced coach fare)."
Sparks players and coaches detailed their travel issues on social media as their flight back to Los Angeles continued to be delayed.
Assistant coach Latricia Trammell posted a photo of a row of chairs at the airport with a caption that read: "Our beds tonight! #theseplayersdeservebetter #charter #gametomorrow."
— Coach Trammell (@TrammellCoach) August 8, 2022
Because Ogwumike had said there were only hotel rooms available for half the team, users on social media asked how it was determined who would get to sleep at the hotel, guard Lexie Brown joked that the team "had a Rock Paper Scissors tournament." She clarified in a following tweet that "everyone had an option to sleep where they wanted."
Travel issues that are the result of flying commercial have affected the WNBA for several seasons now. In August 2018, the Las Vegas Aces forfeited a game because players opted not to play after they had faced more than 25 hours of travel.
During the All-Star break in July, WNBA commissioner Cathy Englebert announced that the league would provide charter flights for the teams playing in the WNBA Finals in September
A spokesperson with the WNBA wrote that the league did not anticipate issuing a statement on the matter. The Women’s National Basketball Players Association, of which Ogwumike is the president, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Sparks players forced to sleep at airport after flight is canceled