As much of a whirlwind 2020 has been, sports are slowly starting to make a comeback. For the WNBA, their comeback comes with a strong message. As the saying goes, “A strong woman stands up for herself. A stronger woman stands up for everybody else.” The WNBA is standing up for everyone else.
The season opening weekend for the WNBA started in the most unconventional way, tradition wise and social wise. Traditionally, teams are playing at their respective arenas filled with fans in the stands. Not to mention the season should have started at the end of May. However, due to COVID-19, the season is solely being played at IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL. But the season is different, 26 year-old Breonna Taylor was murdered shortly after midnight in her home while she slept, causing a wave of anger and hurt. Her killers have still not been arrested
To show their activism, the players all opted to have Breonna Taylor’s name on the back of their jerseys. An idea created by the Las Vegas Aces’ Angel McCoughtry, she received the blessing from Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer to wear her name and say her name all season long. To further show their support for Taylor, all teams stood in silence for 26 seconds, the age of Taylor at the time of her death.
The W players are most definitely the front runners for their activism, but this isn’t the first time the WNBA has shown their activism in regards to Black lives. In 2016, the Minnesota Lynx sparked a police walkout due to the wearing of “Black Lives Matter” shirts during their warm up. The team was highlighting the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.
In 2018, Minnesota Lynx 4x champion Maya Moore announced that she would step away from the game to focus on criminal justice reform. She succeeded in freeing Johnathan Irons, a 40 year old African-American man who was convicted at age 18. In 2019, Mystics guard Natasha Cloud called for action for gun reform due to gun violence in Washington, D.C. She also stepped away from the 2020 season to focus on social justice issues. Atlanta Dream’s Renee Montgomery will also sit out for the 2020 season to continue her fight for justice.
As you can see, the ladies have been the real MVP’s for a while now.
The WNBA has been on the frontlines regarding social justice for the longest time, yet they are still in the shadows of male athletes who attract much of the attention when it comes to their show of activism. And even though it should have been done way before this, it’s time to show the players the respect they deserve.