Last Friday the Las Vegas Aces took a stand.
After experiencing travel delays for 26 hours, when they finally got to Washington they were a mere four hours away from tipoff against the Washington Mystics. Worried about the health and safety of his team, Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations Bill Laimbeer decided the risk of injury was too great and the Aces did not play.
That controversial stance has sparked endless debates on how the league should deal with the stand. On one hand, player safety is of number one importance but, on the other hand, the Aces did have a job to do. Well, yesterday the WNBA made its decision and issued this is official statement:
A forfeit damages the Aces’ playoff hopes who, with the included forfeit, have now lost three straight games. Laimbeer issued this statement on behalf of the Aces:
For now, it appears the Aces are taking the punishment on the chin. But it feels like this story is far from being over. The league neither addressed the travel issues that the Aces faced nor the issue of Mystics’ fans showing up and arena crew members missing a day of work. These are lingering questions that will have to be answered.
The decision to grant the Aces a forfeit is a fair, albeit, unfortunate one, as the win puts the Mystics in third place and drops the Aces to three games back of the final playoff spot.
In such a tight playoff race, it’s disheartening that playoffs could come down to flight delays.
More important to this story, however, is that the WNBA take preventive measures to ensure a situation like this never happens again. It is of utmost importance that the league seek out charter flights for teams so that they don’t have to be stuck in an airport for 26 hours. The Aces took a stand for player safety and it cost them a game.
However, in doing so, they brought national attention to a problem that has existed for a long time in the WNBA — a grueling travel schedule. Although other teams deal with the headaches of commercial flights doesn’t mean they should have to either. The Aces felt that playing on such little rest and nutrition was unsafe and we all should respect their decision. The Aces aren’t the first team to experience severe travel delays but hopefully they will be the last.