There will be a 2020 WNBA season, as league officials announced a plan for the 12 teams to gather at IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL, for 22 regular-season games followed by a traditional playoff format.
Under the current plan, teams will report in early July to IMG Academy, the single site for training camp, games and housing. Regular-season action will tip off in late July after training camp. As with other pro sports scheduled for summer play in a sequestered environment, including the NBA and MLS, no fans will be allowed to watch game action.
There are still plenty of details to be finalized. The full season schedule will be released later, with games to be broadcast on ESPN, CBS Sports Network and NBA TV. Exactly how the season will be run is also in the planning stages, as the league is working with medical specialists, public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place. 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, according to the press release announcing the decision.
“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.”
Also part of the 2020 WNBA season plan: emphasis on social justice. he 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,” Engelbert said.
“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. 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.”
“As in recent CBA negotiations, the WNBPA Executive Committee worked tirelessly to represent the interests of all players as the league planned to launch a 2020 season,” said WNBPA Executive Director Terri Jackson. “Our society has learned or perhaps has been reminded of an important lesson: women are integral to the economic stability of their families and their communities. The league and the teams’ commitment make a statement.”