WNBA players express concerns about playing in Turkey

Photo Credit: Jim McIssac

On the heels of the recent New Year’s attack in Turkey—one near a nightclub where several WNBA players were that night, some players are now wondering if the security risk is worth it.

One of those players is Shavonte Zellous of the New York Liberty, who made her opinions known in an interview with the Associated Press.

It’s been an honor to play there, but this year now it’s getting fearful and scary with stuff that’s been happening.

–Shavonte Zellous

For the last eight seasons, she played her offseason basketball in Turkey. But recent developments have had her question if taking the overseas trip is the right move.

Literally, our life now is go to the gym, go to the store, go home.

Zellous told the AP that players in Turkey have a group chat where they routinely discuss if they want to stay there. The attack in Istanbul that left 39 dead hit home given that she is from Orlando—the site of last year’s mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub.

Another player who expressed that she could not stay was Sugar Rodgers, who recently traveled to Turkey to play in an overseas league. The team she played for was located not too far from the Syrian border and Rodgers only stayed for a month before returning to the United States.

I heard about a bombing that killed 17 people about two hours away, and right there, I was like, I don’t want to stay.

Rodgers said to the AP the Turkish government cut off all lines of communication so she could not share what was going on via social media. She described it as “scary” to not be able to communicate what was going on.

For some players, the ability to opt out depends on if or if not the United States government declares a country unsafe.

The WNBA hoped to address this overseas safety problem by allowing players to communicate directly with the league using the LiveSafe app.

By: Akiem Bailum (@AkiemBailum on Twitter, Instagram)

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