Their message was clear: ladies have been completed sitting on the sidelines. It was their sport, too. They usually have been taking their shot.
They have been then — and at the moment are — decided to command respect and forge a future for younger women and girls that confirms: once we play the sport, we win — on and off the court docket.
So right this moment, after I watch amazingly proficient gamers like Renee Montgomery (Atlanta Dream) and Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm) not solely pushing the sport ahead however main conversations round social justice and equality, I do know they’re a sworn statement to the sturdy legacy left behind by these authentic WNBA icons. These of us who comply with ladies’s basketball intently, know that always it has been the WNBA, not the NBA, that has initiated conversations about justice and equality, prompting their male counterparts to talk out, although the ladies acquired a lot much less fanfare.
These ladies have come too far to be silenced by the likes of Kelly Loeffler.
An avid supporter of President Donald Trump, Loeffler, on Tuesday, strongly urged the league to cancel plans to permit gamers to put on jerseys with the phrases “Black Lives Matter” and “Say Her Identify,” a reference to Breonna Taylor and untold numbers of different ladies who’ve been killed by police or died in custody. As an alternative, Loeffler wrote in a letter to league Commissioner Cathy Engelbert, she desires to see the American flag on all WNBA attire.
“How is she nonetheless a proprietor? Bye Kelly. Preserve that damaging vitality out of our league.”
“I am fairly unhappy to see that my group possession will not be supportive of the motion & all that it stands for. I used to be already sitting out this season & that is an instance of why, I might like to have a dialog with you in regards to the matter if you happen to’re down?”
Regardless of the criticism, it appears to be like like Loeffler is not shying away from the eye.
And satirically, or maybe deliberately, the senator seems responsible of the very factor she’s accusing the WNBA of doing — injecting politics into sports activities.
Loeffler will not be backing down. And although the league is clearly attempting to distance itself from their Atlanta group proprietor, it stays to be seen what, if any, repercussions she is going to face from the league.
Preventing for social justice is nothing new to the ladies of the WNBA.
I ought to know, I used to be there to start with.
In 1996, I used to be assistant sports activities editor on the New York Every day Information and answerable for protection across the launch of the league. Like the ladies on the court docket, the WNBA gave many ladies in sports activities an opportunity to lastly show themselves at work. In media, it was by default — the largely white-male sports activities writers mocked the sport, balked at protecting ladies’s basketball.
Right now’s league is steeped in a tradition that has lengthy been vocal about issues of social justice and ladies’s equality, from equal pay for all ladies and psychological well being consciousness to racial justice and LGBTQ equality.
Again in 2009, after I was board co-chair of GLAAD (previously the Homosexual & Lesbian Alliance In opposition to Defamation) we have been invited to work with the WNBA to develop and host group and fan occasions for the LGBTQ followers. Our aim was to assist eradicate the poisonous, homophobic attitudes that too usually comply with ladies in sports activities. The WNBA, guided by former NBA Commissioner and civil rights champion David Stern and then-WNBA president Donna Orender, fearlessly led these initiatives, lengthy earlier than homosexual marriage and different LGBTQ rights had been gained on a federal stage.
Right now, watching the lady of the WNBA — certainly all of the younger voices — demanding justice within the face of such horrifying racial hate retains me looking forward to the long run.
It appears like they’re enjoying for all of us to win.