WNBA Commissioner Kathy Engelbert Photo by Charles Hollman
Sports Odds and Ends
The travel crisis remains an issue for the WNBA that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. The Minnesota Lynx were the latest club to face travel issues, in their case trying to move from Minneapolis to a pre-game.
The long-standing issue was raised at the All-Star Game in Chicago earlier this month. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert told media, including MSR, that charter flights could be arranged for playoff teams if needed. Otherwise, all 12 clubs would have to fly commercially, perhaps the only major league not to use charter flights regularly to get back and forth at games.
The WNBA boldly announced in February that it had raised $75 million from investors. Engelbert said in a press release that the money was “unprecedented… to invest in players and teams.”
What about that $75 million? Where has it gone? Certainly, with inflation and fuel costs rising, some of this could help improve travel conditions for players and teams. Why can’t NBA teams that don’t have access to private planes in the summer make them available to their poor sisters?
During Engelbert’s visit to Minnesota earlier this month, MSR asked him about the so-called new money and where it was going. “Remember, Charles,” Engelbert said, slyly referring me to the Wintertime press release, “we’ve talked about this. First the players, the success of the stakeholders – and that includes the media, owners and teams – and then the engagement of the fans. All of these touchpoints are an important part of Rajdhani’s mission.”
I checked out the official mumbo-jumbo. In their words, “Our strategy is to use this asset to continue building the league’s brand as a bold, progressive entertainment and media value that embodies diversity, promotes equity and champions social justice.” We make up the WNBA for a bright future and this is a sign and a sign of the future direction of women’s football overall.”
did you get all this Translation: No travel money.
Benefits for Former ABA Players
A new NBA and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) program announced earlier this month that they will jointly fund pension payments for about 115 former American Basketball Association (ABA) players who have played at least three seasons. Played but did not qualify for retirement. In 1976, the NBA merged with the ABA.
An IndyStar story published last year found that 80% of former ABA players who are struggling financially are black. The ABers have been at odds since the 1976 merger, which involved only four ABA clubs, and many essentially ran out of future pension payments.
“We all believe it is appropriate to give this group financial recognition for their influence,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in an ESPN article. He added that both the league and players “felt a need to act on behalf of former ABA players who are aging and, in many cases, facing difficult economic conditions.”
Under the new program, eligible former Abers will receive an annual “accreditation payment” of $3,828 per year of service. Please note that these are not called annuity payments.
“We have always viewed ABA players as part of our fraternity and we are proud to finally recognize them with this benefit,” Tamika Tremaglio, executive director of the NBPA, said in a statement.
Charles Hollman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at Spokesperson-Recorder for Minnesota.