After discussions with the leagues’ key stakeholders, including the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA), the WNBA has announced elements of plans to return to the court to begin the WNBA 2020 season.
The league is finalising a partnership that would make IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, the official home of the 2020 WNBA season highlighted by a schedule of 22 regular-season games followed by a traditional playoff format.
Beginning in July, IMG Academy will be the home for each of the league’s 12 teams and serve as a single site for training camp, games and housing.
Due to the fluid situation resulting from the pandemic, the league and players will continue to review the appropriate health and safety protocols and make necessary changes to the plan prior to arriving on-site for the start of training camp and throughout the season.
“We are finalising a season start plan to build on the tremendous momentum generated in the league during the offseason and have used the guiding principles of health and safety of players and essential staff to establish necessary and extensive protocols,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.
“As home to some of the world’s leading athletes, coaches and performance experts, IMG Academy is thrilled to partner with the top basketball players in the world and the entire WNBA family,” said Tim Pernetti, Executive Vice President, IMG Events & Media.
The WNBA 2020 season will include a devoted platform led by the players that will aim to support and strengthen both the league and teams’ reach and impact on social justice matters. As recently announced, this began with the WNBA making donations from sales of its “Bigger Than Ball” women’s empowerment merchandise to the Equal Justice Initiative.
“The WNBA opposes racism in all its forms, and George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are the latest names in a list of countless others who have been subject to police brutality that stems from the systemic oppression of Black Lives in America, and it is our collective responsibility to use our platforms to enact change,” said Engelbert.
Under the current plan, teams will report to IMG Academy in early July and regular-season action will tip-off in late July after a team training camp period.
Although the WNBA 2020 season will be played without fans in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league will continue to build on the current momentum around the WNBA and the players, while offering fans a front-row seat at home thanks to broadcast partners ESPN, CBS Sports Network and NBA TV and their ongoing commitment to women’s sports.
Regular-season matchups and times for WNBA 2020 Tip-Off will be announced at a later date.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought the entire world to a standstill and the sporting arena is no exception. Most of the high profile tournaments including the Olympics stand postponed.
Even the biggest cricketing spectacle on the planet, the Indian Premier League (IPL), stands suspended indefinitely owing to the coronavirus pandemic. After Bundesliga, La Liga and Serie A have recently become the other high-profile sporting events to resume after almost a three month period with almost no sporting activity. Premier League is also expected to resume later this month.
A few cricketing boards around the world have only recently granted permission to their players to resume training.
The move to restart sporting leagues and tournaments comes after governments are beginning to realise that the coronavirus is here to stay for quite some time and sports among other businesses will need to find a way to co-exist with it.
The virus has already infected more than 8 million people around the world while claiming over 430 thousand lives. There is still no sure shot treatment of the disease and social-distancing, self-isolation and maintenance of basic hand hygiene remain the only potent weapons of protecting oneself from contracting the infection.
(With inputs from IANS)