Going into the 2018 season, we knew the WNBA schedule would be condensed.
Coming out of the 2018 season, we now know that was a giant mistake.
The league tightened the season with the 2018 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup beginning on Sept. 22.
How much did the schedule tighten?
In 2017, the Lynx started on May 14 and ended their regular season on Sept. 3. That’s 34 games in 113 days, or a game every 3.32 days.
In 2018, the Lynx started on May 20 and ended their regular season on Aug. 19. That’s 34 games in 91 days, or a game every 2.67 days.
That’s a half day less of rest inbetween games, which may not sound like much but it’s so incredibly significant, especially when you consider teams in the WNBA are flying commercial and not private. Remember days when you’ve spent half a day at the airport for whatever reasons? Exactly.
That literally happened to the Las Vegas Aces in 2018 and they were forced to forfeit a game against Seattle because they didn’t feel comfortable playing just hours after landing.
This would all be much different if teams had private planes, but that’s not the case. They are waiting for commercial flights. That means red eyes and layovers.
After the All-Star break, the Lynx traveled to play the Los Angeles and Seattle on back-to-back nights, before hosting Atlanta, and traveling to play Chicago and Las Vegas. It was five games in seven days, including a back to back. All traveling commercial. That’s traveling 5,233 miles in a week, while also playing 200 minutes of basketball.
“This was an awful decision and it did not have the players in mind, or the product in mind to be honest with you,” Lynx GM and coach Cheryl Reeve said. “Because when the players are affected like that, you had a forfeited game, it was an awful decision. I understand the difficulty of the league in trying to carve out our space, we’re juggling European leagues, juggling U.S.A. basketball, frankly I think something’s got to give, why is the WNBA making concessions everywhere?”
This isn’t to say the schedule wasn’t fair for the Lynx. It’s saying it was unfair for everyone. Teams were on a level playing field when compared to each other, sure, but it’s a situation they should have never been in to start with.
“At some point we have to say this can’t happen anymore,” Reeve said. “We can make a concession here or there but to keep continuing to make concessions everywhere, and taking the brunt everywhere, it’s just unacceptable.”