Whether starting later than usual or playing a season under unprecedented circumstances even for the COVID-19 era, the WNBA keeps getting slighted, even their social justice focus often overshadowed or minimalized.
This isn’t your typical apples-to-oranges comparison the W and its players are often subjected to when it comes to pro hoops in this country. What can’t be ignored is the glaring disparity, the world of difference between the NBA restart “bubble” and the WNBA’s “wubble,” as the players have begun calling it.
The two sites in Florida, one of the nation’s growing coronavirus hotspots, are located at least 100 miles apart. The NBA is at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Bay Lake near Orlando, a Taj Mahal-like, brightly-lit, spacious palace court. The WNBA is at a converted soundstage at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, a darkly-lit, AAU summer camp-looking place.
The NBAers play in a climate-controlled bubble. The WNBAers are sweating profusely in their games, looking like they have been doused with buckets of water.
“It’s not working on my hair very well,” joked Minnesota Lynx’s Erica McCall. “It’s just getting used to a lot of sweat.”
All joking aside, the inequality is a low-down, dirty doggone shame, too glaring and too stark in contrast to ignore.
“There was no reason for the women to have a lesser facility than the men,” declared WCCO Radio’s Sheletta Brundidge. “Someone decided that the women didn’t deserve the same thing.”
That “someone” is the never-ending bias against women’s sports. It is the male or males who, while planning the return of hoops after a springtime shutdown, couldn’t find some equitable way, or even some semblance thereof, to provide similar courts and surroundings for both leagues.
The NBA reportedly spent over $150 million on their three-court bubble. Off the court, the players are sequestered in luxury rooms with individualized menus, and perks galore—players-only lounges, barbers, manicurists and pedicurists.
We don’t know how much was spent on “Camp W.” The WNBA players, all 12 teams are housed either at multi-room villas with kitchens or at the IMG ‘campus’ hotel, a sports boarding school, with nary the amenities their male counterparts enjoy.
“Here is the chance to put the women and the men on the same quality of basketball court,” said Brundidge. “They could have given them the exact same style, the exact same quality. It’s horrible that they decided not to do this.
“It would have taken nothing for them to spend the same amount of money on the women as they were doing on the men,” she said.
The bubble-wubble setup, despite claims to the contrary, is a false equivalent. The NBA is at ESPN’s Disneyland. The WNBA is at the Bates Motel.
It seems even in the new normal that gender inequality will never go away, whether in sports or in the rest of life. Brundidge summed it up concisely: “That is wrong.”
Lynx play ‘crazy schedule’
The Minnesota Lynx (3-1) resumes its three-games-a-week schedule Wednesday, August 5 against New York. This is the ninth time in 10 years the team opened a season 3-1 or better.
“It’s a crazy schedule,” said Lynx guard Rachel Banham. “The [22-game] schedule is simply crazy.”
The entire WNBA season is dedicated to Breonna Taylor’s memory, and her name is on every player’s jersey. It has been 145 days since Taylor was shot and killed in her own apartment. The officers responsible have not yet been arrested.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.