WNBA

WNBA Activism Extends to Fans, Too

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The WNBA fan base is full of diehard fans. Most fans know anything and everything about the league. The formation of #WNBATwitter gave the base a space to voice very strong opinions and hot takes. In being supporters of the league, fans have a responsibility not to speak for the players, but rather amplify their voices. It is important to understand that as someone who is a fan of the league, but not a player, that makes you a part of the out-group as opposed to the in-group (players, coaches, staff, etc.). By being a fan of the WNBA, there is a responsibility for your actions to align with that of an ally to the league’s players, as well as an ally to women in sports.

The purpose of this piece is to encourage readers to research some of the incredible things WNBA players have done away from basketball, and share that with others. Some of the major men’s leagues have followed in their footsteps. Are some of the actions the NFL has taken like stenciling “End Racism,” or “It Takes All Of Us,” on the field really doing anything? Probably not, but for the NFL, expectations should be pretty low considering how the league has turned its back on Colin Kaepernick. Meanwhile, the NBA gave its players the option to choose from a list of phrases to put on the back of their jersey relating to social justice.

Follow the Leader

If you’re wondering where the NBA got this idea from, look no further than the WNBA. Angel McCoughtry and others had long been fighting for names of others to be on the back of their jerseys. Every league that adopted the idea of putting phrases on their field, jerseys, helmets, etc.: The idea came from the WNBA. And it’s no surprise that the WNBA executed it the best either. 144 players all dedicated an entire season to Breonna Taylor. Seeing her name on the back of every jersey was a constant reminder of who they were playing for, and the issues that this league has so consistently fought against for years.

The WNBA is full of leaders who use their platform for good. Whether it is social justice, voting, criminal justice reform, or many other causes, these women are leaders not just in sports but in society. Maya Moore walked away from a historic career during her prime to fight criminal justice reform. Natasha Cloud forfeited an entire season’s salary to fight for social justice. The list goes on and one thing is clear: these women put their careers on the line to fight for what they believe in.

We live in an age of social media where just about anyone can create their own platform. Some use that platform for good, others do not. Using your platform as a fan to amplify the voices of WNBA players is an example of using it for something positive. Black women are leaders, and their voices should be respected as such.

The Next Step

To bring things full circle, let’s revisit the opening statement of this piece: The WNBA fan base is full of die hard fans. In one sense, it is great that there is such a strong community of people with such a strong passion for the league. But for the league to reach its full potential, it’s going to have to build a fan base that also includes casual fans. The easiest way to turn attention towards the WNBA players is to use your platform, however big or small, to direct your followers to their voices. Repost what the players say on social media, help their words be seen by as many people as possible. Doing so can expose their stories to a new group of people for the first time. The kids these days call it ‘putting someone on.’

In simple terms, the more people that are exposed to the stories of WNBA players, the more fans there will be. Just by a press of a button, someone could see a player’s story and become a fan because they feel they can relate to it. Maybe a young girl will hear about Natasha Cloud’s impact and decide that the impact she will have off the court is going to be as big as the one she has on it. Or maybe a young boy will find out that A’ja Wilson got a statue in her honor before she turned 25. Wanting to be just like that, he declares A’ja Wilson is his role model.

Ari Chambers sums it up best: The WNBA is so important.

About John Thomas

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