The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) is emerging stronger than before from its quarantined season, Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said on Thursday, as the league completes a truncated schedule away from its loyal fans.
The Las Vegas Aces and the Seattle Storm face off in the WNBA Finals starting on Friday, in a best-of-five championship series inside the league’s Bradenton, Florida, campus where players gathered in July to live and compete in a quarantined setting due to the coronavirus pandemic.
There were no COVID-19 positives among players and team staff, Engelbert told reporters on Thursday, as the league built on the momentum it set in motion in January, with the ratification of a landmark collective bargaining agreement to dramatically increase player pay.
Engelbert told reporters regular season average viewership was up 68% this year.
“It was not easy, and there’s no doubt in my mind, and hopefully the players’ minds, that it was 100 percent worth it,” said Engelbert, who applauded players for their leadership in advocating racial justice in the United States.
“We are stronger, a stronger community, and the players have a louder and stronger voice,” she said. “This may prove the ability to lead during difficult times.”