It is not uncommon for professional sports personnel to travel during the off-season in search of another league to continue playing. For the WNBA – Women’s National Basketball Association – one of those places was Russia and the team at UMMC Ekaterinburg.
But after the arrest, detainment, and trial of eight time WNBA All Star and two time gold medal winning Olympian Brittney Griner all that has changed. Thanks to players like Griner who come together from around the world to for a “super team”, UMMC Ekaterinburg has won five EuroLeague championships in recent years.
But now that Ekaterinburg is no longer an option for the players, where do they go? The United States has issued a “Do Not Travel” order for Russia and the International Basketball Federation has issued a sanction on any Russian team participating in any international events.
Currently WNBA players have found new off-season homes with teams in Turkey and Hungary; but players traveling to Turkey are cautioned to do so with “increased caution”.
While the issue old equality when it comes to pay between men’s and women’s teams is far from being resolved; players who travel overseas to play can make as much in a single month as they do for a whole season in the U.S.
And while Ekaterinburg pays its players very well, some of the American players are unsure whether or not they will ever return to play again in Russia.
Another issue that will come into play for the WNBA players is beginning with the 2023 season, players will face penalties for coming to camp late – the EuroLeague season can run into April when the WNBA is getting ready for camp.
feature photo credit: Avery Warley at 2 August 2015 game.jpg