Their message was clear: girls had been performed sitting on the sidelines. It was their recreation, too. And so they had been taking their shot.
They had 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 in the present day, after I watch amazingly gifted 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 unique WNBA icons. These of us who observe girls’s basketball intently, know that usually 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 obtained a lot much less fanfare.
These girls 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 Title,” a reference to Breonna Taylor and untold numbers of different girls who’ve been killed by police or died in custody. As an alternative, Loeffler wrote in a letter to league Commissioner Cathy Engelbert, she needs to see the American flag on all WNBA attire.
“How is she nonetheless a proprietor? Bye Kelly. Maintain that destructive vitality out of our league.”
“I am fairly unhappy to see that my staff possession is just not 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 concerning the matter in the event you’re down?”
Regardless of the criticism, it appears like Loeffler is not shying away from the eye.
And paradoxically, or maybe deliberately, the senator seems responsible of the very factor she’s accusing the WNBA of doing — injecting politics into sports activities.
Loeffler is just not backing down. And although the league is clearly attempting to distance itself from their Atlanta staff proprietor, it stays to be seen what, if any, repercussions she is going to face from the league.
Combating for social justice is nothing new to the ladies of the WNBA.
I ought to know, I used to be there at first.
In 1996, I used to be assistant sports activities editor on the New York Every day Information and in command of 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 overlaying girls’s basketball.
Right now’s league is steeped in a tradition that has lengthy been vocal about issues of social justice and girls’s equality, from equal pay for all girls 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 had been invited to work with the WNBA to develop and host staff and fan occasions for the LGBTQ followers. Our aim was to assist eradicate the poisonous, homophobic attitudes that too typically observe girls 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 received on a federal degree.
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 longing for the long run.
It seems like they’re taking part in for all of us to win.