The 2020 WNBA season is set to begin in late July and run into October with all teams being housed at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Floriday, but as the deadline for players to opt in or out of playing, there is a growing number of players choosing the latter option.
Renee Montgomery of the Atlanta Dream was among the first to opt out, citing her desire to continue working for social justice reform, and on Monday, Connecticut Sun star Jonquel Jones announced she would be sitting out the season due to health concerns and the unknowns regarding the long-term impacts of contracting COVID-19 on the body. Later Monday evening, the Washington Mystics announced two starters from last year’s championship team, Natasha Cloud and LaToya Sanders, have both chosen to opt out of this upcoming season.
Cloud averaged 9 points and 5.6 assists per game a year ago for the WNBA champion Mystics, including a playoff run where she averaged 13.1 points and 6.2 assists. Sanders averaged 6.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
For Cloud, the decision was based on a number of reasons, but chiefly her desire to continue working towards social justice.
“This has been one of the toughest decisions of my career but I will be foregoing the 2020 WNBA season,” stated Cloud. “There are a lot of factors that led to this decision, but the biggest one is that I am more than an athlete. I have a responsibility to myself, to my community and to my future children to fight for something that is much bigger than myself and the game of basketball. I will instead continue the fight for social reform, because until Black lives matter, all lives can’t matter.”
Sanders cited health concerns as her reason for foregoing on the 2020 season.
“This was not an easy choice to make, but after much thought and conversation I do believe it is what’s best for my health and family,” said Sanders. “I wish my teammates and the entire Mystics family the best this season and I will continue to watch and support them.”
As the deadline to announce intention of playing or not approaches, it will be interesting to see how many more top level players decide to sit out, both on the WNBA side and the NBA side, where Davis Bertans and Trevor Ariza are the first two to make their decision to opt out known. Whatever the reason — family, health, or activism — any player that chooses to pass on this season is more than justified in their decision.