Arike Ogunbowale

WNBA Player On Why Charter Planes Is ‘No. 1’ Priority

WNBA athlete Arike Ogunbowale commends the strides being taken to shine a light on women’s professional basketball but says there’s much more to do.

Speaking to People, Ogunbowale acknowledges that “a lot more visibility” is on the WNBA as more games are now televised. However, this “media reach” is only one part of the advancement they need to reach equality in U.S. professional basketball.

This media expansion is due to a new streaming deal that places WNBA games for viewing on CBS and Paramount+, in addition to Prime Video, NBA TV, and social media platforms such as Meta and X. The deal will result in over 200 games for live watching as well as streaming. Ogunbowale believes people will be more inclined to watch given the wider accessibility.

However, with this rising popularity, the accessibility toward better quality transportation for the teams is also a conversation for players and the WNBA’s executives. According to the athlete, that is the next task on their to-do list of revamping the league.

Charter flights have stirred controversy previously, considering that many teams have incurred penalties for avoiding commercial flights. Challenges like flight delays have consequently resulted in scheduling complications for games.

However, the WNBA has relaxed its commercial-only guidelines, but only on public charter business JSX for back-to-back games and the playoffs, as announced by ESPN in June.

While the league has somewhat allowed charter flights to be booked for teams, taking commercial flights during the regular season can still weigh on players’ bodies, especially given the time needed to get to one’s gate before departure.

“Just with recovery, you have to be at the airport three hours before a flight. Then fly, get there, practice, and then after a game, you have to stay the night,” explained the 26-year-old, currently playing for the Dallas Wings. “Rather than if you charter, you could just leave right after the game, and that’s almost like 15 hours of extra things that would just be avoided if we could just charter.”

While she is aware of the hefty expense, the former Notre Dame star hopes that the franchises and WNBA will work to find a transportation solution that best benefits the players.

She notes, “So I know it’s costly, but hopefully, we can figure out a way to get it done.”

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