WNBA players’ stance needs more attention

WNBA players’ stance needs more attention
August 05
13:29 2020

I am not sure why mainstream media is not giving attention to what the WNBA players have been doing as they begin their 2020 season. The WNBA and WNBPA (Women’s National Basketball Players Association) have launched a social justice platform, The Justice Movement, to enhance the voice of their players.

The league and the players association have also collaborated to form the Social Justice Council. The mission is for the council is to be a driving force of necessary and continuing conversations about race, voting rights, LGBTQ+ advocacy and gun control among other important societal issues, they stated on their website.

The site also states that the council will cultivate designated spaces for community conversations, virtual roundtables, player-produced podcasts and other activations to address this country’s long history of inequality, implicit bias and systemic racism that has targeted Black and brown communities.

It seems to me that the WNBA players have decided to walk the walk instead of just talking about taking a stance. I was glad to see that the movement was not just from the African American players, but instead it is something that is happening league-wide with all players.

As part of their social justice initiative, prior to the opening game between the New York Liberty and Seattle Storm, all of the players left the floor prior to the national anthem being played and went to their respective locker rooms.  Also, instead of wearing their last names on the back of their jerseys, players will wear messages such as “Say her name” and “Black Lives Matter,” among other phrases and names of unarmed individuals slain by police officers.

I think the reason this has not received as much media attention as it deserves is because the women of the WNBA are not holding back. They did not just dip their toe in the water with a simple slogan or commercial, they have dove head first into this movement and expect to see change based on their actions, which is very commendable, but can also be scary to the masses.

“We are incredibly proud of WNBA players who continue to lead with their inspiring voices and effective actions in the league’s dedicated fight against systemic racism and violence,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Englebert.  “Working together with the WNBPA and the teams, the league aims to highlight players’ social justice efforts throughout the 2020 season and beyond. Systemic change can’t happen overnight, but it is our shared responsibility to do everything we can to raise awareness and promote the justice we hope to see in society.”

The statement made by the commissioner shows that everyone is on board from top to bottom. That is the only way a movement is going to be successful in my opinion. If everyone has the same agenda, then progress can be made, but if there are too many ulterior motives, then the movement stalls.

I applaud the WNBA and their players for taking this stance and making tangible moves that will hopefully affect change in a positive way sooner than later.  

The WNBA has a history of social justice involvement. Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx sat out last season to focus on the case of Jonathan Irons, a man she believes was wrongfully convicted. She has stated she will also sit out this season as well to continue to push for criminal justice reform and the release of Irons.

“I’m in a really good place right now with my life and I don’t want to change anything,” Moore told the New York Times in a telephone interview. “Basketball has not been foremost in my mind. I’ve been able to rest and connect with people around me, actually be in their presence after all of these years on the road. And I’ve been able to be there for Jonathan.”

I commend Moore for committing herself to such a cause and putting aside something she loves to do. What many people don’t realize is many of the top players have to play nearly year-round in different countries to supplement the income they make from the WNBA, which is not very much compared to their NBA counterparts. So the fact she was willing to give up money for something she believes in makes me respect her decision that much more.

The movement has spread enough to garner attention from some NBA players as well. Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets has committed $1.5 million to supplement the income of players who choose not to play this season, whether because of COVID-19 concerns or social justice reasons.  

I hope Irving inspires other athletes to follow suit so the WNBA players don’t have to make the tough decision of choosing their job or their passions. One thing I do know is the WNBA has gained one more supporter and I will definitely watch more games this season.  I will support any entity that goes to these lengths to support what is right.

Way to go, WNBA.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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