The WNBA’s Social Justice Movement: Activism on and Off the Court

Posted formula1-betting June 25, 2023
Updated 2023/06/25 at 2:11 PM
6 Min Read

As the Women’s National Basketball Association has continued to establish itself, athletes have increasingly used their platforms to transcend social barriers through athleticism. Now more than ever before, athletes are using sports as a vehicle for social change; as evidenced by an announcement from both its league and players’ union that this season’s focus will be addressing inequality, implicit bias, and systemic racism.

From Seimone Augustus opposing a ballot initiative in Minnesota that would ban same-sex marriage to Natasha Cloud forgoing her 2020 WNBA season to work on criminal justice reform, the activism among WNBA players is unparalleled in professional sports. 

On the Court

Black women tend to dominate sports where activism is an outgrowth of their identities; therefore they view activism not as political activism — as some might in the NBA — but as athletes who can use their platform for issues they care about such as racial injustice, LGBTQ rights or gun control.

WNBA players have long championed these issues. Recently, the league and WNBPA established a Social Justice Council to lead discussions around major societal problems; programming will begin this season.

This week was notable in its support for Black Lives Matter as WNBA teams kicked off the 2020 season and featured uniforms dedicated to Breonna Taylor and Say Her Name movement. Additionally, the WNBA and WNBPA are joining with African American Policy Forum to highlight policies contributing to police brutality and racial violence, and working alongside families of victims in raising their stories.

Off the Court

When WNBA players leave the court, they take on some of the world’s toughest issues – from pushing back against team owners’ anti-black activism to campaigning for opponents of sitting senators – with great effect. There’s no shortage of ways these athletes are working toward social change beyond playing basketball on court.

This season, the WNBA and its player’s union have created the WNBA Social Justice Council in order to address issues like voter suppression, police brutality, women’s rights and Say Her Name movement in honor of Black women killed by law enforcement such as Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland and Vanessa Guillen who have all been murdered since 2019.

For the duration of this season, WNBA teams will wear warm-up jerseys bearing “Black Lives Matter” on the front and “Say Her Name” on the back in memory of those affected by police violence. Furthermore, all players and fans are being encouraged to vote in this year’s elections and cast their ballots accordingly to WNBA predictions.

In the Community

WNBA players are working to raise awareness of social injustice issues in America. Along with forming a partnership with the African American Policy Forum, players and the league are supporting families of female victims as they advocate for policies which reduce police brutality and gun violence, as well as speaking out about systemic racism and discrimination. 

Natasha Cloud of the Mystics took time away from basketball this year to work toward overturning George Floyd’s conviction and protest racial injustice, while Seattle Storm guard Breanna Stewart marched for Black Lives Matter and Juneteenth events in Washington D.C.

In 2020, the WNBA and players union launched The Justice Movement as part of their joint project called the WNBA/WNBPA Social Justice Council. The council addresses issues like voting rights, LGBTQ advocacy and gun control – it even supported Rev. Raphael Warnock in Georgia’s runoff election for senator. Rev Warnock defeated Kelly Loeffler – co-owner of Atlanta Dream and former Senator in that state!

In the Media

Women’s sports has long pushed the envelope when it comes to what is expected from athletes. From Sheryl Swoopes who revealed her pregnancy shortly before entering the WNBA to Natasha Cloud of Washington Mystics using their fame to champion social justice issues.

WNBA and its players’ union have come together to form a social justice council ahead of the 2020 season to address issues like voting rights, Black-owned businesses and gun violence. Led by activists such as Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza and Rock the Vote CEO Carolyn DeWitt, it will serve as an outlet for dialogue on such matters as voting rights, Black-owned businesses and gun violence. 

New York Liberty star Layshia Clarendon believes it’s crucial for women’s NBA (WNBA) stars to use their platform to shed light on racial injustices. Recently she spoke with Yahoo Sports senior NBA insider Chris Haynes to share more about the work her team and other WNBA players are doing against such injustices.

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