11 of the 12 WNBA squads arrived last night at the league’s bubble site, or ‘Wubble’ as the players have begun to call it, at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
While fans excitedly watched team and player Instagram stories, desperate to discern who is and is not playing in the restart, the players were uncovering a different, less joyful reality.
Footage and pictures obtained last night by the Undefeated’s Kayla Johnson show that the living conditions for WNBA players fall far short of what was promised to them. The ‘Wubble’ facilities appear to have been insufficiently cleaned, with the laundry room, below, in a state of disgusting disarray, even including rat and mouse traps–suggesting the presence of rodents on the campus. The video also begs the question–why are these professional athletes doing their own laundry when NBA players have Walt Disney World’s guest services staff to cater to their every need?
just got this video from one of the laundry rooms inside the WNBA “bubble” and couldn’t be more disturbed. this is not ok. pic.twitter.com/6FC10jlcql— Kayla Johnson (@klajohnson) July 7, 2020
Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson confirmed the validity of the video on her Twitter, comparing the IMG Academy dorms to a “trap house”, or drug den. Los Angeles Sparks star Candace Parker also alluded to the poor upkeep of the housing on her Twitter this afternoon joking, “For any fan that questions our love of the game…come to the WNBA bubble.”
Another video obtained by Johnson shows what appears to be a worm or millipede on the carpeting of one players’ room. While their NBA counterparts are being given the full, five star resort experience, the WNBA is essentially living in a poorly maintained college dorm. While the NBA gets to see unreleased Disney and Marvel movies early, their WNBA counterparts are more likely to see an actual fucking black widow. While NBA players have their choice of several fine dining experiences at Walt Disney World Resorts, WNBA players get a tupperware full of whatever the hell this is:
this was a meal option served to some WNBA players. i don’t think they would have agreed if this is what was advertised. pic.twitter.com/C9PjykUd3l— Kayla Johnson (@klajohnson) July 7, 2020
There is a clear disparity here between the treatment of these athletes based on their gender, and one that is ultimately a microcosm of the way WNBA and NBA players are treated in general: the NBA is allowed a significantly higher level of luxury and comfort than the WNBA is for the same labor. And while this was to be expected (we’ve known that the WNBA was going to be housed in a school for a few weeks), the depth of the inadequacy within the ‘wubble’ falls well short of the atmosphere the players were promised when they agreed to participate in the 2020 season.
Concerns have also been raised as to the extent to which IMG Academy, a much less remote location than Walt Disney World, can actually effectively serve as a bubble. The lack of care put into preparing IMG Academy for the WNBA’s arrival is an insult to the players and to women’s sports in general.
It pains me to say this as a lover and supporter of women’s basketball, but these conditions are unacceptable, and I think it’s ridiculous to expect some of the greatest athletes on earth to play under these circumstances.
Image Source: AP Images