the women's national basketball association (wnba) on thursday fined the indiana fever, new york liberty and phoenix mercury and their players. the league penalized them for wearing black warm up shirts in response to recent shootings by and against police officers.
all three teams were fined $5,000 and each player was fined $500 because the shirts violated the league's uniform policy. although the shirts were made by adidas - the league's official brand - wnba rules state uniforms may not be altered in any way.
wnba president lisa borders on wednesday said, "we are proud of wnba players' engagement and passionate advocacy for non-violent solutions to difficult issues but expect them to comply with the league's uniform guidelines."
indiana fever player rep briann january said, "what's most upsetting is the way it was handled. you have a league that is 90 - if not above 90% african-american - and you have an issue that is directly affecting them and the people they know and you have a league that isn't willing to side with them. it's not a race issue, not an anti-police issue, not a black or white issue. it's a right or wrong issue."
mistie bass of the phoenix mercury tweeted, "don't say we have a voice and then fine us because we use it." tamika catchings, fever all-star and president of the players association, said, "instead of the league taking a stance with us, where they tell us they appreciate our expressing our concerns like they did for orlando, we're fighting against each other."
the league quickly gave every team shirts in support of the orlando tragedy in june, which the players wore. liberty guard tanisha wright said, "we were ok with that, we wanted to support that, but also they can't pick and choose what initiatives to support and what not to support just because it doesn't push their agenda. this is important to us."
new york all-star tina charles said, "after seeing the african-american male shot three times after helping an autistic person out this morning in florida, i knew i couldn't be silent. knowing the player i am representing this organization, if anybody was going to wear it, it had to be me. i have no problem wearing this shirt inside out for the rest of the season until we are able to have the wnba support us."
the player's union is preparing to file a grievance over the players' fines. in the spirit of unity, the liberty and fever chose only to speak after the game about social awareness, politely declining any questions about thursday's contest. the league undergoes a month long olympic hiatus beginning monday, but january said players will continue to actively engage in discussions about these issues.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.