Cloud and Sanders to opt out of 2020 WNBA season
Updated: Aug 7
On June 15th, the WNBA proposed a 22-game season with playoffs, beginning in late July and ending in early October. Players will receive full compensation and there will be great measures taken in order to ensure safety. As many leagues propose plans to return to play, the WNBA has planned to arrive in Bradenton, Florida, the site of their 2020 season in early July. ESPN cited that the players received a lengthy document that “spelled out testing and safety procedures for before and after they arrive at IMG and provided details on lodging, meals and other aspects of their stay". In order to help combat safety risk prior to and during the tournament, players will be instructed to self-quarantine, and testing is expected to occur daily. Additionally, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert has emphasized the importance of keeping an eye on the progression of Covid-19. Many players have opted out because of extreme safety concerns, and the desire to focus on social justice issues.
Among the players opting out of the season are LaToya Sanders, and Natasha Cloud of the Washington Mystics. Cloud cited her rationale for withdrawing as a desire to focus on social issues. "There are a lot of factors that led to this decision, but the biggest one is that I am more than an athlete," ESPN noted. "I have a responsibility to myself, to my community and to my future children to fight for something that is much bigger than myself and the game of basketball. I will instead continue the fight for social reform, because until Black lives matter, all lives can't matter." ESPN also noted that Sanders is not reporting in order to stay safe, “This was not an easy choice to make, but after much thought and conversation, I do believe it is what's best for my health and family," Sanders said.
Reigning MVP of the WNBA, Elena Delle Donne has neither confirmed nor denied her status for the 2020 season, having dealt with health issues. Mystics leadership including general manager Mike Thibault have voiced support for Cloud and Sanders as players are not required to compete, and maintaining the safety of players and staff alike is the utmost priority to the league as they begin to resume play. The Mystics look to pick up where they left off and defend their 2019 WNBA Championship title.
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