The Mystics signed Shey Peddy as a replacement player on Saturday while Emma Meesseman and Kim Mestdagh are playing for Belgium in Women’s EuroBasket. Peddy was on the Mystics’ training camp roster and was cut before opening day.
Natasha Cloud was really, REALLY happy about the signing. So she shared the news on her Instagram account. Here’s a tweet to show you the news.
That said, there’s a more important issue to look at here. The Mystics suspended Meesseman and Mestdagh. While I certainly get that the two won’t be paid for the next month, it’s clear that they were suspended just because they are Belgians, not Americans.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a suspension means “temporary removal (as from office or privileges)” or “temporary withholding (as of belief or decision)” among other things. From these literal definitions, Meesseman and Mestdagh are suspended. They won’t be paid for the next month because they are representing their country.
But at the same time, the word suspension implies that the person being suspended did something wrong. We see that in sports quite frequently. An NBA player who throws a punch is suspended for one game or more. A player who is found to have violated drug policy is suspended for multiple games in multiple sports leagues.
In this case however, Meesseman and Mestdagh are suspended because they are playing for their country in a continental tournament. So I’m calling it like how I see it.
Emma Meesseman and Kim Mestdagh are punished for being Belgian.
To be fair to the Mystics’ front office, Meesseman and Mestdagh aren’t suspended because they did anything wrong or misbehave. And the Mystics did nothing wrong here. When a team misses players for a period of time, they need replacements. That’s why Peddy was brought here.
The problem I have is what the WNBA chooses to call this literal ... suspension.
Assuming the WNBA doesn’t change anything in the next CBA in regard to scheduling breaks around international tournaments, perhaps they could call this term the “International Leave List.” But let me take this a step further.
The Mystics and WNBA fans from around the world than before. A fan came from HONG KONG just to see Elena Delle Donne play. But that expansion is going to hit a big roadblock with the league seemingly locking out non-American players just because of the passport they hold when they want to play in continental tournaments.
Soon after EuroBasket Women 2017, I wrote about how the WNBA must change to adapt to the realities of international basketball. And in December 2017, I spoke with Paul Nilsen of FIBA.com about these issues in a three-part Q&A. Both are definitely worth your time to read.
If there’s anything we want as Mystics and WNBA fans, it’s this. The WNBA has to take international breaks for these tournaments so they don’t penalize non-American players.
Furthermore, even if the WNBA doesn’t want to be TOO friendly to non-American teams in the short term, they need to consider that the USA Basketball Women’s National Team must participate in the 2020 Olympic qualifying tournament — DESPITE qualifying for the Olympics through the World Cup in 2018.
There are many pay and travel issues to resolve in the WNBA’s next CBA after the current one expires this season. But international team calendars must be a major priority as well for this league’s growth going forward.