The WNBA made its return last Saturday with a season opener game between the New-York Liberty and the Seattle Storm. It was the first league that officially came back to action in the US on July 25th, alongside the MLB. The game offered a view on how the league is going to dedicated its season to Breonna Taylor, the woman who was murdered by police officers at her home last March and who is a focus point for the Black Lives Matter movement.
In honour of Breonna the WNBA chose to have her name in different parts of the game; on the court, on shirts, after and before the games. Pregame and warm-up jerseys have the hashtags: “Say her name”, “We are Breonna Taylor” or “Black Lives Matter” on them. You can’t miss them.
In addition to this, every jersey will have “Breonna Taylor” on the back for the rest of the season, and a ‘Black Lives Matter’ patch will be on every shirt in the front
Moreover, those few changes the league decided to do, we also notice that the official hashtag of the league was changed. The WNBA went with #MakeWayMakeChange, as the newest one to highlight the situation in the US about social injustice and police brutality. The new hashtag implies a will to be actors of this change, by creating the path for the future. This hashtag also resonates for women in sport that have a growing will for equality and respect in their profession, and tend to encourage younger women to think about being professional.
All of these decisions make the WNBA the most involved league for social change and justice
The league has been supporting a new justice system and promoting social changes since the early protests in 2016. Indeed, already at this time the WNBA was involved in social changes with a press conference and shirts in honour of Philando Castile, by supporting Kaepernick in his kneeling protestation in 2016 and, more recently, by calling for the removal of Kelly Loeffler (one of the part-owner of the Atlanta Dream franchise) who opposed the Black Lives Matter movement.
Just for this reason you should watch more women professional basketball.
Besides the league decisions, WNBA players have also decided to have their own impact on the situation. Indeed, a lot of players decided to only talk about Breonna Taylor in interviews. Others have custom shoes honouring the 26-year-old woman, and a few players have decided to opt out and stay home as a sign of protest.
Franchises chose to not stay silent either. On Sunday 26th the Chicago Sky decided to play photos of Breonna Taylor during the national anthem.
During the season opener on Saturday, both teams left the court as the national anthem was being played. All of these decisions, made by the franchises, show that everyone in the league is involved.
This is not the league’s decision with patches, shirts etc. Everyone is unanimous about the fact that social system needs to change, and all the players, staffs and administration in the WNBA understood it.
This will hopefully be followed by professional leagues not only in the US, but the rest of the world.
Featured Image: Twitter via @BleacherReport
Last modified: 9th August 2020