Bit of a crisis going on in the WNBA these days and I would expect a quick resolution, the only resolution there could be.
The players, who are all congregated in Florida in their own little “bubble” as the league hopes to play a pandemic season in Bradenton, are in open revolt against Atlanta Dream owner Kelly Loeffler.
The story, at its most basic is this:
Loefller, a co-owner of the Dream who is also a Republican senator for the not-so-great-state of Georgia who is seeking re-election, has made it widely know she is a dead set against the players using the league platform to advance social causes near and dear to their hearts.
In this day and age, it’s a no-brainer that the players would try to lead discussions and effect change, athletes worldwide are speaking out, loudly and consistently, and WNBA players have, actually been leaders of the campaign for years and years.
Loeffler’s public concern with the idea – she’d rather have uniforms adorned with the American flag rather than the names of women murdered by police or for reasons of race or with such messages as Black Lives Matter.
The players, rightfully, are outraged, including one of Canada’s own:
The players association was even more adamant.
I cannot blame them and the only just resolution would be for the league under commissioner Cathy Engelbert, to force Loeffler to get rid of her stake in the teem and leave the league.
(Now, before too many knickers are knotted, know this: I am not in the least against free speech, in almost every case, abhorrent or counter to what I hold dearly it may be. But I am even more adamant that there need to be repercussions to what’s said, consequences for statements. Fair’s fair, right?)
I know the WNBA doesn’t get nearly the coverage it should up here, for reasons that are in some ways legitimate and some ways the result of laziness, but the longstanding efforts of players, teams and the league itself in creating awareness about societal issues are admirable.
Everything from racial prejudice and inequality, LBGTQ issues, police brutality, brutality against women, you name it, the players have fought against the wrong and for the right, supported those who need it, often at great personal cost, for years.
Hell, one of the greatest players of all time, Maya Moore, took seasons off – in the prime of what is one of the best careers in the history of sport — to fight for the release of a wrongfully convicted Black man, a fight that ended with his freedom just this week.
They are to be admired, and mirrored, leaders in a vitally important flight and generally with unwavering support from the league itself.
The WNBA put out what, to me, was a rather weak statement condemning Loeffler’s statements when what it needs to be doing in setting the wheels in motion for her departure.
It won’t be easy.
Unlike the NBA, which had someone like Steve Ballmer willing to pony up something like $ 2 billion for the Clippers after Donald Sterling was sent packing, I don’t imagine there are too many investors looking to buy into WNBA franchises given the economics of the moment. I think that will change once the world gets back to something akin to normal and the league cam capitalize on Engelbert’s leadership and the strength and popularity of the game right now but it’s imperative, I believe, that something has to be done right now.
That could mean the league has to find the money and personnel to run the team itself in the interim but if that’s what has to happen, that’s what has to happen.
It might be hard, it might be messy but it’s so necessary, it’s not even funny.
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The women in the league, strong and outspoken and role models like you can’t imagine, deserve it.
So do the fans.
All right, a quick glance through the inbox yesterday showed a lot of people had a lot comments on the notion put forward Monday that some sports franchise names need to be changed sooner rather than later.
But there weren’t an awful lot of, you know, questions in there and we need to start filing up Sunday’s mailbag with queries.
Do that by clicking on firstname.lastname@example.org today and typing some words.
So the Raptors are packing un in Naples, Fla., today and are off to Orlando and the NBA campus tomorrow fort the next phase of their Summer of Bubbles.
Nick Nurse seems quite happy with what he saw in the last couple of weeks or so, which is good if not predictable.
But everyone, to this point at least, is safe and healthy and that’s the important thing. Now, all that’s left is to survive another three months at Disney.
That sounds doable, right?
But with Raptors packing today, travelling tomorrow, isolated for 36 hours or so once they get to Orlando, it’s going to be a few days before we get a chance to talk to anyone.
Wish me luck coming up stories to fill the next few days.
And I will say this:
I find it almost incomprehensible that the other major sports, well, I guess baseball and football primarily, are facing daily delays in getting test results back. It shows just how farther ahead basketball and hockey are in their planning and execution and should be quite worrying to fans of those other sports.
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