Diana Taurasi unhappy with WNBA’s travel limitations

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 06: Diana Taurasi #3 of the Phoenix Mercury handles the ball during the first half in Game Four of the 2021 WNBA semifinals at Footprint Center on October 06, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Superstar Diana Taurasi isn’t happy with WNBA travel and scheduling limitations. Her frustration follows a weekend in which Taurasi had to charter a private jet for herself and a couple of teammates on Friday night to make it home for her daughter’s birth. Taurasi and other Mercury teammates chartered a plane from Las Vegas to Phoenix following their playoff win. Tuesday, Taurasi expressed her frustration with the arrangement.

“We pay for everything. This is the WNBA. We pay for it. It’s frustrating because there are people that would like to help, and it’s against CBA rules and this, and I understand there’s a standard to make sure everyone is on the same playing field. So, thank you to my Russian buddies for that.”

Diana Taurasi

Unfortunately for Taurasi, she had to charter the plane herself, something she could do thanks to years of playing overseas in Russia. After flying into Scottsdale around 11:30 p.m. on Friday, Taurasi went to the hospital, where her wife and former WNBA player Penny Taylor was in labor. Taurasi’s daughter was born at 4:30 on Saturday morning. Taurasi made it for her daughter’s birth but had little rest because the WNBA Finals started Sunday night. 

WNBA travel is not just a headache for Diana Taurasi

Taurasi wasn’t just disgruntled that she needed to work out her travel. Taurasi also felt that lack of rest didn’t prepare the team due to the WNBA’s rushed scheduling. While Taurasi and her teammates on the charter arrived Friday night, the team didn’t arrive in Phoenix till Saturday morning. With the Finals beginning the next day, Phoenix had little turnaround time, and they didn’t get to practice before Sunday night’s game.

With the abbreviated turnaround time, the Chicago Sky beat the Mercury 91-77. For Taurasi, the game must have been extra challenging. Taurasi slept at the hospital both Friday and Saturday night before going to the arena Sunday morning for Game 1. While they may have felt unprepared on Sunday, the Mercury has had a couple of days to prepare for Game 2. We’ll see if the Mercury can rebound.  

It seems unlikely that the NBA would allow for such a short turnaround for the most significant series of the season. While it isn’t fair to compare the two, Taurasi is right that this issue should fall to the league. Players shouldn’t worry about time to be prepared to perform.

It seems like another example of the structural imbalances that exist between men’s and women’s sports. As the WNBA becomes more popular and gains exposure, it’s hard to imagine that logistical issues will persist. If high-profile players like Taurasi continue to make their voices heard, change is sure to come. 

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