New York Liberty Charter Flight Controversy Rumbles On

What this means for women’s basketball

One of the biggest stories in the WNBA came off the court last year when it was revealed that New York Liberty had violated the collective bargaining agreement rules by repeatedly chartering flights for its players. In particular, it was the Napa trip taken by Liberty over the Labor Day weekend that really kicked things off.

New York Liberty Charter Flight Controversy Rumbles On

The WNBA said that the benefits gained by Liberty having chartered flights gave them a competitive advantage over other teams. As such the governing bodies sought to give Liberty a $1 million fine, although this was reduced to a fine of $500,000.

Such a fine is a league record and it will have been seen as being relatively light considering that the WNBA’s general counsel, Jamin Dershowitz, considered stopping Liberty from losing its right to future draft picks or even terminating the franchise completely. While such legal shenanigans might not be the first thing basketball fans think about when they load up their betting apps, they do illustrate just how things are evolving in women’s basketball.

What’s the chartered flight scandal really about?

The announcement that the WNBA would be slapping a half-million dollar fine on the Liberty caused plenty of amusement from the team’s players on social media. Liberty’s Sabrina Ionescu called the punishment, ‘a joke’, while Lexie Brown commented, ‘don’t even have to say anything lol’.

Such controversy over charter flights is nothing new and it even caused a WNBA game to get canceled back in 2018. Above all, the irony that a team like Liberty would get fined for treating its players too well is particularly outrageous.

All of this is set against a backdrop where the key franchises in women’s basketball are jostling for position. While the WNBA has been in existence for over 25 years, the league has courted plenty of new owners who are keen to shake things up, while there are several more established franchises who are keen that things stay as they are.

The fact that women’s basketball doesn’t yet get the kinds of revenues enjoyed by its male counterpart in the NBA means that the issue of money is going to be critical for whether a certain franchise succeeds or fails.

As such, the fact that Liberty were seen chartering flights will have set warning bells ringing across the league. But with women’s basketball now becoming more popular everywhere from our television screens to the various New York online sportsbooks, it’s hoped that the current scandal will become a mere footnote in the evolution of women’s basketball.

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