The NBA is not the only pro basketball league that is aiming to return in a Florida bubble. While NBA players are locked away inside the Disney World bubble, the WNBA will be close by in its bubble. That bubble, at IMG Academy in Bradenton, might not have the Disney magic that the NBA has, but it might be the safer option because of it.
The WNBA bubble
Jack Maloney of CBS Sports broke down everything surrounding the WNBA’s bubble. Players began arriving on July 6 — exactly 18 days before the season tip-off. Before arriving, the players answered a questionnaire about their medical history to ensure they didn’t have COVID-19 symptoms. After reviewing the surveys, doctors will decide whether or not certain players can sit out while still collecting paychecks.
Players were tested three times before embarking for IMG. Those who hypothetically tested positive would have to sit out until the tests came back negative. Upon arrival, the players were tested yet again. If a player tests positive, they will have to vacate the premises, and their teammates will be tested. Once they have cleared the CDC protocol, their eligibility will be verified.
Once the season kicks off, testing and temperature checks will be commonplace for everyone inside. Masks will be required during all physical activity and games. Each team will only have 18 people, 12 players, and six staff members, throughout the season. While this means that some may not get to go, it is far more prudent than the NBA’s approach.
Is the WNBA’s bubble better?
The WNBA’s bubble might benefit from its smaller stature compared to the NBA. The NBA is filled with players making millions of dollars, and those who cannot play are risking losing their paychecks. Plus, players are going to a park that, while closed off from their area, will have people coming in and out, and the NBA players are at far higher risk.
NBA teams are allowed double the personnel as WNBA teams with 37 members. Several players have already been caught breaking the bubble. These athletes have to be quarantined and tested before they can resume activity. While the WNBA lacks the glamour of a Disney World bubble, it beats the NBA from a logistical standpoint.
With fewer teams and fewer players, it is a smaller group to behold. According to USA Today, this means that, while the experience and life behind the scenes might not meet the NBA’s standards, the players, staff, and media will likely be safer. However, this doesn’t mean that players are comfortable with the return of the season.
Taking the season off
Several of the biggest names in the WNBA will be watching the drama unfold from afar, according to CBS Sports. Several players have already opted out of the season, citing everything from the COVID-19 concerns to a focus on social justice. From Las Vegas Aces star Liz Cambage to Jessica Breland, players choose to take the time to think about safety and more significant issues.
Renee Montgomery of the Atlanta Dream is taking time off to focus on social justice. Chiney Ogwumike, who played with her sister last year in Los Angeles, sat out over injury concerns. Then there’s Elena Delle Donne, who wants to sit out the season due to Lyme disease, but was unable to get the approval to do so. Since then, she has publicly sparred with the league and released a letter explaining her side on The Players’ Tribune.
The WNBA season is just days away from tipping off, but they appear to be doing some things better than the NBA. When the season kicks off, the players will be isolated, and while the methodology may leave something to be desired, it blows the NBA out of the water when it comes to execution.