As the NBA and WNBA prepare for returns to the court later this summer in Orlando and Bradenton, Florida, respectively, there are a pair of chief concerns of players getting ready to play in the two bubbles. One is health and safety, wanting the leagues to take more precautions, namely with outside employees from Disney and IMG Academy, to ensure they are subject to similar testing protocols to try and ensure the bubbles stay bubbles.
Another is concern that a return to the court will distract from the Black Lives Matter movement that continues to see protests nationwide against police brutality and systemic racism, which players from the NBA and WNBA have been extremely active in, either with feet on the ground or in using their platform to speak out. Some have expressed a desire to skip the bubble to keep focus on the movement, with Renee Montgomery of the Atlanta Dream recently announcing she will sit out the season to work on social justice reform as Maya Moore has done the past two seasons.
Others see the return as an opportunity to boost their platform to speak out on injustice and issues facing the Black community, provided the league offers their full support in elevating those voices. On Monday, WNBA star Angel McCoughtry, now of the Las Vegas Aces, announced on Instagram she was starting a petition to get the WNBA to allow players to wear the first and last names of people killed or injured by police brutality on their jerseys in place of their names, mocking up examples with Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
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I will be playing this upcoming @wnba and I am looking forward to continue to fight social injustice issues while playing and supporting front line workers. ⠀ ⠀ I am currently working with the @lvaces and @wnba to use our voices, our uniforms, and our sport to continue to impact and create real change. I am creating a petition (LINK IN BIO) to allow players the ability to put the FIRST & LAST NAME of HUMAN BEINGS that who have been injured or KILLED in incidents involving POLICE BRUTALITY! Even Front line workers during the pandemic The goal is also to create a relationship with the families of who’s name the athlete has chosen. This is a way to use our platform to be a helping hand during these trying times. Silence is an ally for EVIL and when sports resume WE WILL NOT BE SILENT. ⠀ ⠀ #SayTheirNames ⠀ #blacklivesmatter ⠀ #thetimeisnow
McCoughtry made it clear she was planning to play this season and continuing to fight social injustice, while announcing her petition to the league, which you can sign here.
I am currently working with the @lvaces and @wnba to use our voices, our uniforms, and our sport to continue to impact and create real change. I am creating a petition (LINK IN BIO) to allow players the ability to put the FIRST & LAST NAME of HUMAN BEINGS that who have been injured or KILLED in incidents involving POLICE BRUTALITY! ⠀ ⠀
Silence is an ally for EVIL and when sports resume WE WILL NOT BE SILENT.
The WNBA had previously stated “the WNBA 2020 season will include a devoted platform led by the players that will aim to support and strengthen both the league and teams’ reach and impact on social justice matters,” and this certainly seems like an opportunity for the league to follow through on that promise. One of the ongoing discussions has been how to allow players voices to be heard during games when the attention is the greatest, and this is certainly a step in that direction. There’s also precedent for such a move, after the Premier League restarted this weekend with players all wearing uniforms with Black Lives Matter written in place of their name.
This would go a step further, placing the names of victims of police brutality on uniforms and it seems like something that should be a pretty easy decision for the WNBA, which has a great history of supporting its players in speaking out for social justice and human rights.