The WNBA is the latest league to unveil plans to tip off the 2020 season after sports halted three months ago as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic is still an issue but the NBA and now WNBA have found solutions for moving forward.
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. The 2020 season will be highlighted by a competitive schedule of 22 regular-season games followed by a traditional playoff format.
“We are finalizing 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.
“We will continue to consult with medical experts and public health officials as well as players, team owners and other stakeholders as we move forward with our execution plan. And, despite the disruption caused by the global pandemic to our 2020 season, the WNBA and its Board of Governors believe strongly in supporting and valuing the elite women athletes who play in the WNBA and therefore, players will receive their full pay and benefits during the 2020 season.”
Throughout this unique season format where all players will be at the same place, at the same time, a first in the league’s history, the WNBA will build on its commitment to social justice and will support players in launching a bold social justice platform as a call to action to drive impactful, measurable, and meaningful change. 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.
“In our discussions with the league, we emphasized and they agreed that a strong commitment to a 2020 season will give the WNBA the chance to show the world that it’s taking the steps needed to secure our livelihood and well-being, while also providing the opportunity to amplify our collective voice,” said WNBPA President Nneka Ogwumike.
“We have always been at the forefront of initiatives with strong support of #BlackLivesMatter, #SayHerName, the LGBTQ+ community, gun control, voting rights, #MeToo, mental health and the list goes on,” she continued. “This is not only necessary from a humanitarian perspective, but it may be one of the biggest opportunities that this league has and will ever have.”
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. Regular season matchups and times for WNBA 2020 Tip-Off will be announced at a later date.