The intersection of sports, social justice, and politics is prevalent more than ever. Athletes are taking on a more significant role in their communities, encouraging people to educate themselves, use their voice, and stand for what’s right. One of the sports leagues at the forefront of this is the WNBA.
The WNBA’s efforts to bring awareness to social justice, voting, and other important topics haven’t been given the proper attention. They have led the way for athletes to own their platform and promote change in the modern era. The league used its platform to assist in politics, which meant taking down one of their own.
The WNBA players take a stand against one of their owners
One of the biggest stories in the WNBA was when Kelly Loeffler made comments about the Black Lives Matter movement. Loeffler, who is the senator of Georgia, is also co-owner of the Atlanta Dream franchise. She opposed the WNBA’s support of the Black Lives Matter movement, which she said “ is totally misaligned with the values and goals of the WNBA and the Atlanta Dream, where we support tolerance and inclusion,” per ESPN.
WNBA players didn’t appreciate Loeffler’s comments. Some even wanted commissioner Cathy Engelbert to remove Loeffler as co-owner of the Dream. This was during the social justice awakening because George Floyd and Breonna Taylor were murdered by police. Several WNBA players protested those killings, with some sitting out the 2020 season to focus on social justice causes.
Loeffler attempted to clarify her comments in an ESPN interview, but players still weren’t buying it. While focusing on playing their season in a bubble located in Bradenton, Florida, WNBA players continued to voice their displeasure with Loeffler and put more effort into promoting Black Lives Matter and other social justice causes. They even put Breonna Taylor’s name on their jerseys for the entire season to honor her.
Loeffler also had to focus on her senate race against Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock. The WNBA players decided to use their platform to dish out an assist that has changed the Senate race.
WNBA players assist Warnock in Georgia Senate race
During the 2020 season in the “Wubble,” WNBA players formulated a plan to assist Warnock in the election. Before one of their games during the season, Phoenix Mercury, Chicago Sky, and Atlanta Dream players wore shirts that read “Vote Warnock”.
This public support of Warnock helped his profile rise, which allowed him to reach a bigger audience. Loeffler and Warnock failed to obtain 50% of the votes in November’s election, prompting the runoff election in January. The WNBA players continued to support Warnock, specifically the Atlanta Dream players. They have been active in making sure Georgia residents register and plan to vote in the runoff election.
The runoff election in Georgia is huge. The winner of this and Georgia’s other runoff election will determine which party controls the Senate. If the Democratic party wins the last two seats, it would be a 50/50 split in the Senate. The tiebreaker is the vice president, which will be Democratic after vice president-elect Kamala Harris is in the White House. WNBA players understand the impact this election has and have been very active in campaigning for people to vote.
The public assistance WNBA players gave Warnock was a big deal. It shows that the WNBA players don’t care about protecting their own. Their focus is on putting the right people in positions of power and changing American society for the better.
The WNBA has bigger plans after Warnock’s win
With the WNBA players, Stacey Abrams, and others’ assistance, Raphael Warnock is projected to be victorious against Loeffler. The election was called early Wednesday morning by ABC News, with Warnock receiving 51% of the vote. WNBA players enjoyed the victory but also have bigger plans after this.
Players are still calling for Loeffler to be out as the Atlanta Dream owner because of BLM comments. Loeffler hasn’t indicated that she will sell her share of the team. That hasn’t stopped one NBA star from thinking about purchasing the Dream.
LeBron James tweeted a picture Wednesday morning after Leoffler’s defeat with Atlanta Dream players wearing the famous “Vote Warnock” shirts. “Think I’m gone put together an ownership group for The Dream. Whose in? #BlackVotesMatter,” said James in his tweet. If James is serious about this, he could form quite the group given his celebrity status and connections.
The WNBA players’ efforts in politics and activism played a massive role in having Warnock in a position to win. They are exceptional players on the court, and perhaps their biggest assist came off the court.