Sunday, October 2, 2022

WNBA Considered Terminating New York Liberty Over Chartered Flights

WNBA - New York Liberty
Connecticut Sun guard/forward DiJonai Carrington (21) and New York Liberty guard/forward Betnijah Laney (44) in action during a WNBA game between New York Liberty and Connecticut Sun on September 15, 2021, at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. (Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

*The New York Liberty were fined $500,000 for taking charter flights to away games during the second half of the WNBA season.

Team owners Joe and Clara Wu Tsai reportedly chartered the flights, which included an unsanctioned team trip to Napa, California. These flights are said to be a violation of WNBA’s bargaining agreement, per Howard Megdal of Sports Illustrated.

Joe previously spoke about the team’s travel on Twitter, saying a “constructive solution to this problem” needs to be explored. 

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Here’s more from Complex:

The Liberty’s $500K fine, Sports Illustrated shared, came after the league reportedly tried to fine the organization $1 million, which was then appealed. Liberty executive Oliver Weisberg is also allegedly being removed from the WNBA’s executive committee as a result. WNBA general counsel Jamin Dershowitz reportedly threatened the “termination of the franchise” and the loss of “every draft pick you have ever seen” in response to the flights that were chartered for every road game during the season’s second half. 

As reported by Bleacher Report, the Liberty has pushed for chartered flights to become standard for team travel.  

“I think what charter flights represent in the world of sports is it gives you a little bit of validation,” Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird said in February. “It’s saying that your league is so successful, it has the finances to charter flights, which is incredibly expensive. There’s not many businesses that just charter flights left and right. … So I think for a lot of us, it would just be an indicator of that. It’d be an indicator of financial success.”

Per the report, Liberty alternate governor Oliver Weisberg wrote in September that “the focus on objecting to better travel arrangements seems to go against the spirit of what the entire League is trying to achieve under the leadership of WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.”

“We cannot begin to talk about gender equity until we solve some pressing issues that have put extra burdens on the health and well-being of WNBA players,” stated Weisberg. “In the spirit of improving working conditions for our female athletes, we are of the strong belief that WNBA teams should be permitted to arrange travel that is consistent with the fact that they are professional athletes.”

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.

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