More attention in the sports world is understandably being paid to leagues whose seasons were cut short, such as NASCAR, the NHL, or the NBA, but many never got off the ground. That is at the forefront of increasingly ugly negotiations between MLB and its owners, but it’s also forcing the WNBA to recognize it may not be able to play a full season.
In an extensive investigation on the latest plans for numerous major sports across the globe, ESPN reported that the current shape of the WNBA’s discussions about 2020 “would likely include a shortened season.”
The league has been working with its partners at the NBA to determine what single-site locations could work for them, including Las Vegas, where the WNBA already has a franchise in the Aces and hosted its 2019 All-Star game. At the same time, commissioner Cathy Engelbert admitted that though the league doesn’t have a firm drop-dead date, saying “It may be too late to play our full season at some point; we’re probably going to come up on that by early July.”
The WNBA does have a unique gap in its calendar when it would have taken a break in July for the Tokyo Olympics. However, the league also must be mindful of the players who travel to Europe and Asia in the winter to play professionally, where they often make the majority of their income.
To that end, the WNBA will likely condense its typically spread-out 34-game regular season and could further restrain its playoff schedule, which already includes single-elimination games in the first two rounds and just five games in the Finals.
Because it was supposed to tip off in mid-May, an optimistic July start (remember, the WNBA also never even began training camp) would cut two months off the regular calendar for a league that is already built around the NBA schedule and overseas competitions. In order to prepare for the worst, the WNBA is already assuming it won’t be able to pull off its full schedule.