HomeSportsScary Brittney Griner Development Brings WNBA Policy Under Scrutiny

Scary Brittney Griner Development Brings WNBA Policy Under Scrutiny

by Nick Schultz
WNBA/Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Brittney Griner has been back stateside for almost two months now, and she’s currently getting ready for the WNBA season with her Phoenix Mercury teammates. However, the league might have to answer an important travel-related question — one that has come up in the past for much different reasons.

WNBA currently teams fly commercial for games and commissioner Cathy Engelbert has said charter flights for the entire league would cost more than $20 million as the calls grow louder for them.

However, there are security concerns about Griner flying commercial after she spent 10 months detained in Russia. That helped jump-start the conversation about teams flying privately as free agency roars on.

On top of that, the bigger conversation would be if the Mercury would fly privately with Griner, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelbourne. That then generates another conversation about other teams in the league, which would fly commercial.

WNBA star Breanna Stewart offers support for charter travel in the league

Breanna Stewart has been vocal about her support for charter flights for teams as she works her way through free agency. She’s currently deciding between the Seattle Storm, where she played the first seven years of her career, or the New York Liberty for her destination next year and recently sent out a tweet offering to help the entire league get charter flights rather than fly commercial.

“I would love to be part of a deal that helps subsidize charter travel for the entire WNBA,” Stewart tweeted. “I would contribute my NIL, posts + production hrs to ensure we all travel in a way that prioritizes player health + safety, which ultimately results in a better product. Who’s with me?”

Engelbert spoke with ESPN’s M.A. Voepel about players’ desires for charter flights, but said it likely isn’t possible unless the league can get some help from sponsorships.

“We’ve asked all the major airlines,” Engelbert told Voepel. “We’ve asked charter companies. I’ve been working on this since the moment I came into the league. Without sponsors stepping up, it’s just not in the cards right now.

“If we could get it sponsored or funded in some way … I’m all ears. I’ve gotten lots of calls over the past year about this since we’ve been back in our 12 markets. Then when people price it out… you never hear from them again.”