WNBA players call for charter flights after Brittney Griner harassed at airport
The GIST: Over the weekend, Brittney Griner (BG) and her Phoenix Mercury teammates were harassed by right-wing YouTuber Alex Stein while flying commercial through the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, reigniting the debate around travel issues that have long plagued the WNBA.
The context: From the NY Liberty’s $500K fine for flying players private in 2021 to two-time Finals MVP Breanna Stewart including travel accommodations as a main priority in her recent free agency, charter flights have been a hot-button issue in the W over the last few years.
- Commissioner Cathy Engelbert has said it's not in the cards financially to make charter the standard just yet, but the W did make some progress this year, implementing charter flights for back-to-back games and throughout the postseason.
- The league also allegedly made special accommodations for BG given safety concerns following her return from a 10-month detainment in Russia, a safety plan they say included “charter flights…and assigned security personnel…at all times,” but the details of which have come into question following Saturday’s incident.
The response: The WNBPA issued a statement “implor[ing] the league and the teams not to wait another day to change the rule regarding travel,” calling it an issue of player health and safety.
- And at least one team took an immediate step to protect its players: Atlanta Dream co-owner and former WNBA star Renee Montgomery tweeted that security will travel with her squad moving forward.