Ah, the return of the old, familiar refrain: “Stick to sports.”
The WNBA’s players, to their credit, have always defied the mantra. This has been true in previous seasons, like in 2016, when teams had media blackouts and players wore black “I can’t breathe” shirts (even as the league fined them for doing so) following a string of high-profile deadly police shootings of Black men. But it’s especially true in 2020: The league has created a Social Justice council, players will wear uniforms bearing Breonna Taylor’s name, courts will be emblazoned with “Black Lives Matter” decals, and team warmups will feature “Black Lives Matter” and “Say Her Name”—a phrase intended to specifically uplift femme victims of racial and gender violence. A handful of players have even opted to sit out the season to focus their attention on social justice causes.
One woman who’s wound up real, real tight about all this is Georgia Senator—and Atlanta Dream co-owner—Kelly Loeffler who is (not a surprise) white and (still not a surprise) a Republican who (this will still not shock you) lamented to the WNBA Commissioner this week about just how damn political all this is.
“Now more than ever, we should be united in our goal to remove politics from sports,” Loeffler wrote to Commissioner Cathy Englebert, according to the Washington Post.
“The lives of each and every African American matter, and there’s no debating the fact that there is no place for racism in our country,” Loeffler, who is running for re-election in November, continued. “However, I adamantly oppose the Black Lives Matter political movement. ... I believe it is totally misaligned with the values and goals of the WNBA and the Atlanta Dream, where we support tolerance and inclusion.”
She also suggested replacing the BLM patches with American flags, which, to quote Damon Young, “LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL” (I’m paraphrasing—he had a lot more LOLs). Perhaps her values align more with, oh I don’t know, selling more than $18 million worth of stocks shortly before the severity of the coronavirus pandemic was publicized. You know, real America-type shit.
Loeffler was promptly called out by the WNBA players’ association, which politely advised that she, uh, GTFOHWTBS, as well as by two WNBA players who opted out of their seasons to fight against racial injustice, Dream guard Renee Montgomery and Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud.
Commissioner Englebert said Loeffler is “no longer involved in the day-to-day business of the team” and that the WNBA’s plans to promote athlete activism would remain in place.
Here’s hoping she’s no longer involved in the day-to-day business of running the state of Georgia in the near future.