The WNBA is not alone in this balancing act.
As the league and its players await a decision on whether a 2020 season will get underway in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, two legitimate, perhaps competing, issues confront the league.
Those are a commitment to the safety of its players and garnering at least some of the TV revenue that has become the league’s lifeblood.
Are both possible? Many in the league believe that a 2020 season will exist in some form. What form that is, where the games will be played, and who (if anyone) will be able to attend all remain to be seen.
The latest: WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert told the Associated Press this past week that the league is focusing on about six scenarios to get play underway. She didn’t go into much detail but did say those scenarios include playing at one site, or possibly a few sites, rather than in home arenas. There is no date for a return, Engelbert said, but the commissioner was optimistic a full or partial season could be played. Opening night was supposed to have been Friday.
One thing does appear clear: The WNBA likely will not make a definitive statement until the NBA has decided whether to salvage the rest of its 2019-20 season. The month that the WNBA had set aside for the Olympics might come in handy.
What’s been said: The Lynx — in particular GM and coach Cheryl Reeve — have been deferring any comment to the league, other than expressing hope the season can be salvaged.
Where is everyone? Lynx players are scattered around North America, Brazil and Italy. That said, at this point, it doesn’t appear it would be a major problem getting all of them all together. Cecilia Zandalasini is in Italy, Damiris Dantas is in Brazil and Kayla Alexander and Bridget Carleton are in Canada.
Biggest obstacles: The magnitude of the task of creating a safe environment for players, coaches, team personnel and officials to function. There are a lot of elements to this, so many challenges of creating a site that is “clean.”
Reasons for optimism: The desire to have a season and the changing nature of the virus and its impact on the world. Engelbert said more is known about the operational challenges of such a return, as well as monetary and health challenges. Returning to normal won’t be possible without a vaccine, most likely.
The bottom line: Many believe the idea of creating a clean site — perhaps in Orlando or Las Vegas — gives both the NBA and the WNBA the best chance to play. The WNBA and its players association have to iron out details how pay, roster size and the salary cap would be affected.