Our Major Questions About the WNBA's Plan for the 2020 Season

With training camp set to begin in less than two weeks, there are still quite a few unanswered questions

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At this point, we’re only a few short weeks away from the (theoretical) beginning of the WNBA season. Players such as Jonquel Jones and Renee Montgomery have opted out of the season, while others such as Erica Wheeler have publicly committed to playing.  If all goes according to plan, the season would begin in early July with training camp and the 22-game regular season would start at the end of July. 

Despite how quickly the season is approaching, there are still numerous unanswered questions about the plan, player safety, and how this is all going to work. Here is a collection of the biggest questions on our mind:

  1. How many positive tests will lead to suspension of play? It’s unrealistic to expect there won’t be positive tests, so what is the plan for when they happen? The NHL has said that a few tests on a single team wouldn’t be cause to suspend things on their side — how will this be handled in the WNBA? Will players testing positive be treated differently than coaches or support staff testing positive?

  2. For that matter, what is the testing plan? How often will players be tested? Will they have to test negative before they can even enter the bubble? If that’s the case, when will that testing begin?

  3. Players have until June 25 to opt out of the season. Is there a number of opt-outs that will cancel the season or force the league to reconsider the plan? How will signing players work for teams that have cap space after a player opts out?

  4. How long will training camp last?  How will the logistics of 12 teams practicing at a single site work? How will the courts be shared? Per the IMG Academy website, there are four courts on campus in two gyms. 

  5. Who will be required to wear masks during games? Will the coaches have to wear them on the bench? Will everyone have to wear masks other than while they’re actively on the court?

  6. How will the WNBA ensure there are sufficient masks and other important sanitation equipment like hand sanitizer for everyone on campus?

  7. How many other people will be on campus at IMG Academy? It’s a large facility, but there are still confines in terms of space, and their website currently offers signups for on-campus summer camps beginning June 28 — including basketball camps. 

  8. The new CBA requires each player to have her own hotel room. Will they have individual rooms at IMG? IMG’s plans for their usual population include each camper having their own room and bathroom to preserve distancing, so it stands to reason that this will be important for WNBA players as well.

  9. How will bringing guests work? If the players have their own rooms, would a guest be allowed to stay with them? Will players with children be allowed to bring them? If they are, how will caretaking work? Tiffany Hayes’ girlfriend, Tia Presley, shared on her Instagram story last week that it would cost $125 per day for Hayes to bring Presley as a guest and that the housing would be shared among four other people.

  10. How tight is the bubble going to be? Will players be able to leave and go for walks, etc.? For outside staff coming in — cleaning crews, arena staff, etc. — how distanced will they be? What exposure will players have to outside IMG staff? What exposure will players have to other people on the IMG campus?

  11. How will free agency work in the bubble? Will teams be able to add free agents outside of the bubble during the season? 

  12. What happens if a player is cut mid-season? Will they be exiled out of the bubble immediately?  

  13. The WNBA has stated they want to support the players in social justice movements during the season. What is the specific plan for that?

  14. How will TV broadcasts and other media work? Will TV broadcasters have to call games remotely? Will they be on a slight tape delay? Will any media, TV or written, be allowed in the bubble?

  15. What television deals will be in place? What will be the schedule of games?  

  16. Will there be synergy with the NBA as far as game broadcasts are concerned? For example, scheduling games so that an NBA game leads into a WNBA game or vice-versa, etc.

The opt-out deadline is two days from now on Thursday, June 25. Opening day of the 2020 WNBA season is less than five weeks away. There’s no doubt the WNBA in conjunction with the WNBPA and IMG are working hard in a good faith effort to develop a plan to enable the season to occur in a safe and entertaining way, but there are still many questions to be answered. Of course, it’s likely that the players have much more information than has been publicly released, and that information may well answer many of these questions, but as we tick closer to when the players are supposed to enter the bubble, answers will be needed.

Thanks for reading the Her Hoop Stats Newsletter. If you like our work, be sure to check out our stats site, our podcast, and our social media accounts on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.