WNBA Fines Players For Black Lives Matter Shirts
This week the WNBA fined the New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury and Indiana Fever for wearing black warm up shirts that referenced the recent shootings that involved police officers and against police officers.
The shirts originally started with the Minnesota Lynx, when members of the team warmed up in Black Lives Matter t-shirts. "Change starts with us. Justice & accountability" read the front of the shirts, while the back featured the names of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, the two black men fatally shot by police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota, respectively. They also displayed the Dallas Police Department emblem and the words "Black Lives Matter."
Although the apparel led to a group of off-duty police officers leaving the team's game against the Dallas Wings, the Minnesota Lynx weren't fined. Following in suit with the Lynx the New York Liberty attempted to do the same with their shirts adorned with #BlackLivesMatter and #Dallas5, but the WNBA sent out a memo to the teams reminding them of violations by altering uniforms. The New York Liberty then removed the words and wore plain black warm up shirts, but still ended up getting fined by the WNBA.
In a statement addressing the matter WNBA President Lisa Borders said: "We are proud of WNBA players' engagement and passionate advocacy for non-violent solutions to difficult social issues but expect them to comply with the league’s uniform guidelines."
All three teams were fined $5,000 and each player was fined $500. However, one of the teams has reached a compromise with its players: the New York Liberty will wear plain black shirts that bear only the Adidas logo.
It's unfortunate that players a part of the WNBA are silenced like this, especially considering superstar NBA players such as Lebron James and Dwayne Wade have spoken out against the gun violence that has recently occurred. But hopefully the other teams will also be able to reach a compromise.