WNBA Players Stop Play in Protest

WNBA takes a stand

Ready for another WNBA recap? Well, I’m sorry but there won’t be one. Why? WNBA players refused to play on Wednesday August 26th and we should take a moment to acknowledge why. No one can expect them to “just dribble,” anymore than anyone can just expect me to cover said dribbling like people aren’t dying in the streets as we speak. So, let’s talk about the WNBA’s biggest play.

So What Happened?

After another Black man, Jacob Blake, was shot at the hands of police, followed by protests that turned chaotic, including violent males attacking and shooting each other, another state of emergency was declared. Does this sound familiar? It should, because it’s our reality. And the masses are fed up. Any sorrow left is gone, leaving people in a smoldering caldera of rage. And it’s about to erupt.

The players of the WNBA are feeling this. Of course they are. A majority of the players are Black women, not just from the US, but overseas as well. They have every right to be angry, sad, stressed, and whatever else they’re feeling. So, on the eve of their games, the players arrived wearing shirts that must be seen to understand the full effect of the message.

All of the players then conferred about they should do. It seemed a consensus was reached. They would play, but stop every seven minutes. But, less than 15 minutes later it was announced that all the games would be cancelled. The players and staff knelt for the national anthem.

Ariel Atkins of the Washington Mystics and Elizabeth Watkins of the Atlanta Dream both shared statements. Atkins emphasized that the players have lives off the court, and that “basketball is not their only platform.” 

The move comes after NBA team the Milwaukee Bucks refused to play their game as a form of protest. Other NBA teams also refused to play. All NBA games for the day were postponed.

So What Now?

These actions didn’t come as a surprise to anyone who regularly follows the WNBA and women’s sports in general. The WNBA made it clear this season was dedicated to social justice. They have been wearing the names of murdered Black women on their jerseys and taking moments of silence. These women have used their platform to advocate for change. And perhaps more importantly, this action left no room to derail the protest. Violent males may be out here using protests as cover to attack one another, but these players are making a clear statement as a united front.

By interrupting business as usual, the players are making it impossible for the league to ignore the grave concerns both of its players and its fans. Stopping commerce has been an effective form of protest in the past, but since the arenas are empty and no tickets are being sold, it will be interesting to see the economic impact the players will make.

As for the games, they have been postponed to a later date. In fact, basketball wasn’t the only sport to postpone games today. The MLS postponed its scheduled matches. Several teams in the MLB did the same. And even tennis player Naomi Osaka stated she would not play her semifinal match in an act of solidarity. While many thought the sports were in jeopardy due to these protests, they will continue. The schedule for the postponed games will be released at a later date and so will my recaps. The WNBA will continue to fight for social justice and hopefully other leagues will follow their example.