WNBA denies MVP’s effort to opt-out

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As the NFL and NFL Players Association work through a variety of issues regarding football in a pandemic, the question of when and how a player can opt-out remains unresolved. The league seems to be willing to allow it, but with clear and specific rules.

The WNBA has clear and specific rules, which have resulted in the league’s MVP being told she can’t opt out of the 2020 season, against her wishes.

Via John Barr and Sarah Spain of ESPN.com, a panel of doctors has denied Elena Delle Donne’s request to opt out. Delle Donne contends that this decision conflicts with the advice of her personal physician.

“The independent panel of doctors the league appointed to review high-risk cases have advised that I’m not high risk, and should be permitted to play in the bubble,” Delle Donne said in a statement provided to ESPN.

Delle Donne said she wants to play, but her doctor has advised her that a chronic case of Lyme disease puts her at high risk for contracting COVID-19 and experiencing complications.

Obviously, she can’t be forced to play. However, she could be subject to greater financial penalties and consequences beyond simply foregoing base pay for 2020 by declining to play without qualifying for an opt out. The G.M. and head coach of the Washington Mystics, Mike Thibault, told ESPN that “we have and will support Elena throughout this process.” That doesn’t address whether the Mystics can or will waive any potential consequences if Delle Donne decides to opt out when the league’s procedures don’t allow it.

All of this is relevant to the NFL because similar procedures ultimately could apply to pro football players. And there could be pro football players who don’t want to play, even if the mechanism created by the league tells them that they can’t.

7 responses to “WNBA denies MVP’s effort to opt-out

  1. Anyone should be able to opt out – but they should go unpaid and if under contract, have a year added to the contract to make up for the one they punted away.

  2. Riiiiight, @ Lesepi. These humans shouldn’t be allowed to opt out and be paid, even if they have compromised immune systems that could lead to their deaths or serious complications.

    I’m sure you are opposed to sick leave and short term disability at your job, too.

  3. A “Fair and Impartial” independent panel of Doctors (Larry, Moe, Curley) has denied her request.

    Sounds fair to me.
    Basket ball is more important than ones life, right?

  4. If a player opts out, and doesn’t play, they should NOT be paid as if they’re playing. Regardless of their underlying conditions. You’re paid to play, not to set at home.

    There’s a difference between opting out and being sick. She’s not sick. So she’s making a conscious decision to not play. The team, in return, makes a conscious decision to pay the players that are actually on the court.

    As lesepi said. Opt out, and the contract year doesn’t count, and you don’t get paid. No debate about it.

  5. She should not be forced to pay….and her team should not be forced to pay her if she doesn’t.

  6. She should be able to opt out. Any player in any sport should be able to opt out. Their contract should just freeze for the year. No pay, no credit for a year of service, it just resumes next year.

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