Two WNBA Teams Take Public Stance

WNBA Teams Take Public Stance

This week two WNBA teams took a stand against the injustice that crippled our country last week. In a matter of 48 hours, we woke up to not one but two shooting deaths at the hands of law enforcement. On July 5, Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge, Louisiana was shot by police force. Then July 6 we wake up again to tragic news of Philando Castile being shot and killed by police officers in St. Paul, Minnesota. On July 7, in retaliation of the shootings a gunman opened fire on police officers in Dallas, Texas, killing five officers that were on duty working a protest.

Two WNBA teams, the Minnesota Lynx and the New York Liberty, chose to take a stand before their games this week. They created their own message and delivered  it together as a team.

Minnesota Lynx

WNBA Teams Take Public Stance: Minnesota Lynx
Minnesota Lynx pregame press conference.

On Saturday, the three-time WNBA champion Lynx wore all black warm up tops. The front of their shirts read “Change starts with us – Justice & Accountability.” On the back were the names of Sterling and Castile. Castile died just a short drive from the Lynx arena. Also on the back of their shirts had a small Dallas police star for the police officers killed right over the phrase, “Black Lives Matter”.

Before the game, team captains Maya Moore, Rebekkah Brunson, Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus spoke to the media. Brunson said, “If we take this time to see that this is a human issue and speak out together, we can greatly decrease fear and create change. Tonight we will be wearing shirts to honor and mourn the losses of precious American citizens and to plead for change in all of us.”

New York Liberty

WNBA Teams Take Public Stance: New York Liberty
New York Liberty postgame press conference.

On Sunday, the New York Liberty made their statement. Before their game on Sunday against the San Antonio Stars, the entire team also wore black shirts but with a different message. On their shirts were the words #Blacklivesmatter and #Dallas5 on the front and a blank hashtag on the back.

After the game, Swin Cash, Tina Charles, Kiah Stokes, Carolyn Swords, and Tanisha Wright, walked into the media room and explained why they took this step. Cash said to the press, “We’ve been having discussions amongst ourselves on how to deal with the different issues we’re having in our society for a while. For us collectively as a group we decided that this is something that we needed to do and wanted to do and do it here in New York.”

The Lynx and Liberty both won their games over the weekend, but if you ask me they won on a much bigger scale. Liberty star, Charles said it best, “I think more athletes, more celebrities especially, we get the most following in this country being on the platform that we have [we should] definitely use our voice,” Charles said. “The more you’re able to voice your opinion, voice how we feel the more that other individuals can sit and think about it and see how we feel. I think a lot of people see us on TV as just athletes but we’re not just athletes. We have everything in life outside of basketball. We have family, close friends, relatives that are affected by everything going on and can relate to it as well.”

On Friday, the WNBA released a statement along with the NBA offering condolences to the families affected by the shooting in the three US cities. The WNBA has not offered up a follow up statement to the actions of the players.

 

About the author:

Caroline Starr is a former Division I basketball player and a Division II basketball coach as well as a life long basketball fan. Her hope is that someday her words provide future college student-athletes little nuggets of knowledge to help them through their college athletics journey. Please note, her expressed opinions are her own and do not represent the opinions of ASN.

Caroline Starr