WNBA Fines New York Liberty For Chartered Flights

The New York Liberty was fined a record $500,000 for taking the Liberty on numerous chartered flights for violating the League’s CBA agreement.

The issue of teams taking commercial flights instead of chartered has long been an issue in the W. On Tuesday, One that Liberty owner Joe Tsai tried to solve on his own by not only funding for his team to fly to road games in the second half of the season but also a mid-season flight to Napa Valley, according to NetsDaily. The private flights violate the compensation players are allowed to receive.

The WNBA initially wanted to fine the Liberty up to $1 million, but it was reduced after an appeal. The removal of front office exec Oliver Weisburg from the League’s executive committee was also considered, per Sports Illustrated, and reportedly confirmed by the W.

Sports Illustrated reported that punishment as severe as the Liberty losing “every draft you have ever seen” to suspending ownership, some considered the CBA violation “grounds for termination of the franchise,” was considered by the League in September of 2021.

Over the years, players like A’ja Wilson, the 2020 MVP, addressed and Kayla McBride on social media have advocated for better travel. Transportation issues have led to cancellations of games in 2018 due to players waiting for a delayed flight.

“I think what charter flights represent in the world of sports is it gives you a little bit of validation,” Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird said in February when explaining the importance of the issue. “It’s saying that your League is so successful, it has the finances to charter flights, which is incredibly expensive. There’s not many businesses that just charter flights left and right. — So I think for a lot of us, it would just be an indicator of that. It’d be an indicator of financial success.”

A year after celebrating its 25 anniversary of existence, being able to receive record funding, ESPN fueling record ratings, and finding its place in sports media by thriving on social media, the coming seasons will be the most important for a women’s basketball league looking to erase the narrative that the WNBA doesn’t make profit and statements from men’s basketball fans that the women’s game isn’t entertaining enough.