WNBA Fined Teams and Players

On Wednesday, the WNBA fined teams and players. Three WNBA teams, the Indiana Fever, New York Liberty and Phoenix Mercury and their players, were fined by the WNBA. The reason they were fined is because they wore black warm-up shirts in the wake of recent shootings by and against police officers. By wearing the black warm-ups, the WNBA’s uniform policy was violated.

All three teams were fined $5,000 and each player was fined $500. The typical amount for a WNBA fine such as a technical foul is about half the $500 amount the players are being fined for wearing the black shirts.

While the black shirts were the Adidas brand, who is the official sponsor of the WNBA, but the shirts were not team issued. The WNBA uniform policy states that uniforms may not be altered in any way.

The fines came after the league sent a memo earlier this week to every team reminding them of the uniform policy. WNBA teams Minnesota Lynx and Dallas Wings also wore special shirts in wake of the shooting deaths, but they did not wear their shirts after the memo was sent out. This is why they were not issued any fines.

Many WNBA players have made statements on social media upset with the fines. Even NBA superstar Carmelo Anthony doesn’t agree with the fines. “I don’t see no reason to fine them. If anything, you should want to support them,” Anthony said Thursday. “I don’t know details, but don’t see a reason to fine them.

“A bunch of teams did it and individuals did it. Everybody has their own freedom of speech. If they decide to use the platforms to do that, I don’t see any reasons for anybody to get fined. We did it. The NBA did it two years ago. The NBA was very supportive. I don’t see why it would be different this time.”

When the fines came out Wednesday, WNBA president Lisa Borders also made a statement. She told The Associated Press that the fines were not about the players speaking out on a social issue.

“We are proud of WNBA players’ engagement and passionate advocacy for non-violent solutions to difficult social issues but expect them to comply with the league’s uniform guidelines,” Borders said.

Disappointed in the WNBA’s actions, Indiana Fever’s Tamika Catchings, president of the players’ union, also spoke out.

“Instead of the league taking a stance with us, where they tell us they appreciate our expressing our concerns like they did for Orlando, we’re fighting against each other,” she said, referencing the Orlando nightclub shooting that resulted in 49 deaths.

The league was quick to give every team shirts in the wake of the Orlando tragedy in June, and the players wore them.

“We were OK with that, we wanted to support that, but also they can’t pick and choose what initiatives to support and what not to support just because it doesn’t push their agenda,” Liberty guard Tanisha Wright said. “This is important to us.”

Teams are standing in solidarity behind this issue. Teams and players are having media black outs where they do not discuss basketball, but rather social awareness. The Seattle Storm and Indiana Fever posted a picture of their teams all in inside out black shirts to their support that they cannot be silent. Despite the fines, teams and players are finding ways to make sure their voices are still heard.

Seattle Storm posted image to social media in solidarity with other teams.
Seattle Storm posted image to social media in solidarity with other teams.

The league has gone on their monthlong Olympic hiatus. The WNBA season will resume on August 26.

Caroline Starr