(BRADENTON, Fla.) — The Indiana Fever begin a virus-shortened WNBA season Saturday against the Washington Mystics.
At least seven WNBA players have tested positive for coronavirus, including two Fever players. Another nine players, including the Mystics’ newly-acquired All-Star center Tina Charles, have opted out of the season because of underlying health conditions.
All 12 teams are practicing in the so-called “bubble” in Bradenton, Florida, and will play their games there as well, without fans. Anyone who tests positive will be quarantined at a separate hotel from the other players and coaches. Fever coach Marianne Stanley says the league’s protocols for minimizing infection give everyone the best chance to stay healthy. She says teams have been going beyond that, “doubling down” on wearing masks. She says everyone’s aware that a new infection at this point could disrupt the season.
Stanley says the empty arenas will make for an odd atmosphere. She says players who normally feed off the crowd will have to find ways to get fired up on their own.
The delayed start to the season means a 22-game schedule, 12 fewer than normal. The Fever will livestream broadcasts of all their games for the first time.
The pandemic brought the college basketball season to a premature end in March and put the NBA
season on hold. The Indiana Pacers resume their season a week after the Fever, against the Philadelphia 76ers.