Back on July 9th, in response to recent police shootings in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis, four members of the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx showed up to a post-game presser with shirts with “Philando Castile”, “Alton Sterling”, and “Black Lives Matter” on the back and “Change Starts With Us: Justice & Accontability” splashed across the front. In support of their fellow players, Tina Charles and members of the New York Liberty followed suit a day later with shirts bearing #BlackLivesMatter, #Dallas5 and #_________ to represent the inevitable hashtag that will arrive in tandem with another tragic shooting incident.
While the gesture received attention at the time – four police officers worked as security guards walked off their jobs with the Lynx – it had mostly died down as the news cycled forward with other protests and national news. Then, on Thursday morning, the WNBA announced they would be fining all teams involved $5,000 and each player who took part $500 each. Surprisingly, neither the Lynx players nor the team itself was fined. Instead, the New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury, and Indiana Fever (all wearing the same hashtagged shirts) each received notice from the league and an undisclosed amount of players were penalized for violating the WNBA’s uniform guidelines, which states that uniforms cannot be altered in any way. Reports say The Dallas Wings were warned for their actions but not officially fined.