ESPN’s WNBA Survey Shows Lack of Charter Flights, Security Among Top Player Concerns

Brittney Griner

Ross D. Franklin/AP

A recent survey conducted by ESPN revealed that travel and safety are among the most common concerns for WNBA players this season.

For the poll, ESPN asked 34 players — ranging from stars to reserves, young and old — what they consider to be the biggest issue for the league at the moment. Of those 34, 18 players mentioned travel as their biggest concern.

“Commercial flights are just insane,” Chicago Sky guard Marina Mabrey said for the survey. “You can’t get out at night, sometimes you get delayed, you can’t get out in the morning, then you wait there and wait there and wait there for the bags and stuff. … It’s an absolute waste of time.”

This year’s WNBA regular season will finish at 40 games — the league’s longest-ever. Teams are required to fly commercially for all games with the exception of the playoffs, the Commissioner’s Cup championship, and back-to-back games that require air travel.

Trips to Uncasville, Connecticut, for example, are notoriously inconvenient. The town — home of the Connecticut Sun — isn’t a popular flight destination.

“Connecticut has the worst travel in all the league, being that we’re an hour away from the airport,” Sun forward Alyssa Thomas said. “It’s Hartford, and there’s not too many flights from there, and if we want to fly direct, we have to travel two hours to Boston. So our travel schedule is brutal.”

Two players also mentioned security as a growing issue in the league. As the WNBA continues to grow in popularity, the profiles of its top players have also increased.

The consequences of the league’s success came to a head when Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner was harassed by right-wing troll Alex Stein.

“Our league is growing, our faces are more out there, so we can’t move the same way that we moved 15 years ago,” Las Vegas Aces guard Chelsea Gray said. “Even players who aren’t in the spotlight as much, they’re still being recognized. The safety of our players on and off the court is important. It’s before games, after games, in between games, at our hotels.”

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