By: KATE SAARI
How much would you be willing to risk to prove a point? Even if it risked your entire career, something that you are extremely passionate about? Well, what if I told you there are things in life that are worth risking everything for, things that are supposed to be normal but are treated as if they are so diverse. The WNBA shows that basketball isn’t the only thing they want to display on your screens, they want to show change. On August 26th, 2020, the Washington Mystics each wore white T-shirts with seven bullets on the back, protesting the shooting of Jacob Blake and then chose not to go forward with playing the game. This movement is just another development in the fight for equal justice for black lives. The WNBA has a lot more to say and this is just one of the many statements they are willing to make to help shed a different light on the inequities of America.
The WNBA itself had to work hard to become a league. For centuries, women have fought to be treated as equals to men. Even nowadays women struggle to have the same rights and the same opportunities. For instance, the NBA was created in 1946 in New York on June 6th, unlike the WNBA, which was created in 1996 on the 24th of April. It took women 50 years to play basketball professionally just like men. There is also a known disparity between the compared salaries of men and women. According to Basketball-Reference, “For the 2019-20 NBA season, the average player salary is roughly $7 million.” CNBC stated that “Last year in 2019, the average pay for a WNBA player was roughly $116,000.” Looking at the statistics, these women have a lot more to lose. They have worked so hard to become professional female athletes and are still not earning the respect that others give male athletes. Not only is the WNBA needing to prove themselves every game, but they also sacrifice their reputation for social justice.
The woman’s basketball league was inspired by the shooting of Jacob Blake and decided to use their platform to protest this ongoing issue. The team wore T-shirts to represent the 7 bullets that were shot at Blake, which as of now has caused him to be paralyzed from the waist down. The teams decided to postpone their games, in honor of Jacob Blake. This isn’t the only issue the WNBA has decided to fight. Previously, they have shown acceptance and welcomed their LGBTQ + community of fans. Ken Shulz from Outsports stated, “The WNBA served as a reminder that the women’s basketball league remains the biggest trailblazer for LGBTQ inclusion in all of American sports.” In addition to the Jacob Blake movement, the WNBA joined forces with the “Say her name” campaign and is dedicating their season towards Breonna Taylor. As the WNBA season continues, players intend to further that commitment, highlighting Black women whose tragedies never received national headlines or sparked nationwide marches, but whose fates did not differ from those who did. The WNBA is a great example of what true athletes with recognition should do to raise awareness of these problems that should be addressed regularly.
The WNBA consistently doesn’t disappoint to support important causes. After the recent protest, they managed to spark a lot of buzz and attention to Blake’s case. Every protest the WNBA holds is so powerful and you can tell how passionate these women are. It’s not just about missing a regular basketball game, it’s about believing in a cause and knowing that sometimes things are more important than a sports game. Although the WNBA has a fraction of the dedicated fans that the NBA has, that isn’t an excuse to not make an impact on our society.