WNBA Aug 6, 2023; Brooklyn, New York, USA; New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu (20) and Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson (22) fight for a loose ball in the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Hours after the WNBA fined the New York Liberty for violating the league media policy in the aftermath of its Game Four loss in the WNBA Finals, the Professional Basketball Writers Association released a statement challenging both the Liberty and the league for undermining “the letter and spirit of league rules.”

The association continued:

“Moreover, we’re concerned that this incident is part of a broader, growing disconnect between the WNBA, its players and the professional journalists who dedicate themselves to telling the stories of this league.”

The Liberty only made head coach Sandy Brondello and veteran stars Breanna Stewart and Courtney Vandersloot available following their home loss on Wednesday night. League rules require teams make players available when specifically requested by reporters.

Earlier this year, the WNBA made a separate change to its media policy by cutting off press access to locker rooms. Players and agents defended the change by calling attention to the demographics of journalists who cover the league and the privacy concerns around women’s sports. On the other side, reporters warned it made their jobs harder and cut the WNBA off from valuable media attention.

As the PBWA states above, they see the Liberty’s rule break as an impetus to again begin negotiations with the league and the players’ union over access.

There’s not an easy answer here. Athlete privacy and safety is paramount, and the WNBA continues to grow in spite of this change. Most every athlete would likely list media time as among their least favorite parts of the job.

Still, sports leagues in the U.S. typically all operate in support of press coverage, even if that sometimes comes as an uncomfortable check on the league itself. And storytelling does help fans learn the history, narratives and stakes of smaller leagues.

[PBWA on X]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.