WNBA Players Encourage Collective Action During ‘Day Of Reflection’

In a roundtable on ESPN this morning, the executive committee of the WNBA Players’ Association came together to announce the league would not play games again on Thursday, though executive committee president Nneka Ogwumike made sure to clarify that this is not a strike or a boycott, but a “day of reflection” for the players, and, they hope, fans as well.

“People forget that we’re athletes, but we’re not machines,” executive committee VP Layshia Clarendon said. “We needed a pause. … It’s been really heavy and difficult to deal with every day.”

In the same gym where ESPN’s Holly Rowe interviewed the executive committee, every player in the league stood with their arms linked to stand in solidarity with the decision and the efforts on the part of the league, teams and players.

While Ogwumike said WNBA players expected to return to play on Friday after agreeing at an overnight vigil that they wanted the season to resume, the players wanted to reaffirm the purpose of the season and draw attention back to voting, filling out a census, contacting local officials, and being a force in people’s own sphere of influence.

Executive committee VP Sue Bird reiterated the pain being felt in locker rooms and communities across the WNBA and the country, and encouraged those watching to “take that pain, that frustration, that energy to the polls.”

All season, the WNBA has been aggressive about highlighting the Say Her Name campaign and female victims of police brutality as well as raising money and awareness around social justice and systemic racism, even as they played a condensed schedule in their Bubble. This day of reflection gave them the space to rededicate the season toward those issues.