The idea behind a league playing all of its games in a “bubble” is to go out of its way to protect player health during this time of raging pandemic. But if leaked details that recently hit Twitter are accurate, it’s fair to wonder if somebody forgot to tell that to the WNBA.
The league is currently setting its players up in a bubble at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. with the idea of eventually having all teams play a 22 game season on its grounds.
ESPN Digital Video Producer Kayla Johnson got ahold of footage from inside The Lodge at IMG Academy and posted it to her Twitter feed:
just got this video from one of the laundry rooms inside the WNBA “bubble” and couldn’t be more disturbed. this is not ok. pic.twitter.com/6FC10jlcql— Kayla Johnson (@klajohnson) July 7, 2020
I don’t know if it’s the hazmat suits on the wall or the giant mousetrap on the shelf but the design aesthetic of The Lodge appears to be Bates Motel meets Silence of the Lambs. Which probably makes it kind of hard to sleep at night.
Johnson also tweeted footage of a worm on the floor next to one of the beds and posted a picture of what can very loosely be described as food being served to the players:
this was a meal option served to some WNBA players. i don’t think they would have agreed if this is what was advertised. pic.twitter.com/C9PjykUd3l— Kayla Johnson (@klajohnson) July 7, 2020
As someone who’s done a lot of stand-up, these pics are giving me bad flashbacks to every comedy condo I’ve ever stayed in. The only difference is these athletes are supposed to be playing at the highest level of professional sports, not warming up the crowd at a suburban Detroit bowling alley.
Understandably, several prominent WNBA players have been appalled at what they found. Two-time MVP Elena Delle Donne summed up her potential future living conditions in one word:
According to Ryan Homler of Yahoo Sports, in perhaps the most sensible decision of her career to date, Delle Donne has not yet committed to playing the 2020 season.
The Seattle Storm’s Jewell Loyd let her feelings be known with a series of posts to her Instagram story that culminated with a Schitt’s Creek clip of Eugene Levy exclaiming, “It’s a dump! You know what, it’s a hellhole!”
It’s also worth noting that in order to experience these premier accommodations, the WNBA is making all players travel to Florida at a time when the state is seeing diagnoses of nearly 10,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day.
In response, ESPN’s Graham Hays noted that other WNBA players have reported a more positive experience at The Lodge and that the league is moving quickly to address the conditions mentioned above. Furthermore, ESPN’s Holly Rowe reported that WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert was interceding in an attempt to find “adequate housing for players” as quickly as possible.
Regardless, the WNBA has already made players travel to one of America’s hotspots during a surge of the pandemic. Adding additional stress with medieval accommodations would make any player such as Elena Delle Donne justified in questioning whether playing this season is worth it.