Saturday, July 30, 2016

NBA and WNBA Protests: A Recap

Some news that I think would have gotten a lot more coverage if not for a presidential contest that is getting most of the attention lately...

The NBA announced it will not play the 2017 all-star game in Charlotte because of the North Carolina state law known as House Bill 2. The Charlotte Observer reports on discussions between the NBA and North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory regarding potential changes to the law. The official statement from the NBA, in part, says:

"Since March, when North Carolina enacted HB2 and the issue of legal protections for the LGBT community in Charlotte became prominent, the NBA and the Charlotte Hornets have been working diligently to foster constructive dialogue and try to effect positive change. We have been guided in these discussions by the long-standing core values of our league. These include not only diversity, inclusion, fairness and respect for others but also the willingness to listen and consider opposing points of view."

The USA Today described the decision as monumental. Sports Illustrated called it the right decision, along with saying it was good business and smart marketing.

Dave Zirin praised NBA commissioner Adam Silver for the decision to move the all-star game but noted the hypocrisy of fining WNBA players for wearing shirts during a pre-game warm-up with the names Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, along with #BlackLivesMatter. The Dallas police shield and #Dallas5 were also on the shirts. 

Zirin wrote: "On paper, this looks like a breathtaking double standard, or at least a confused contradiction. But it makes sense if you understand that standing up to this North Carolina law isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s smart for a league that wants to market itself as young, LGBT friendly, and willing to stand up for those being demonized by the state’s execrable governor, Pat McCrory. The NBA is now costing the state of North Carolina tens of millions of dollars by pulling the game. But its own risk is minimal. To stand with #BlackLivesMatter and to sanction the use of the court as a political space, holds a great deal more risk. You risk alienating white fans. You risk police walkouts, which took place in Minnesota when off-duty police hired as WNBA security walked out of the arena when they saw shirts that said #BlackLivesMatter."

WNBA players spoke out about the punishment, including Tina Charles, who tweeted "I refuse to be silent."

The fines were rescinded.

In an article entitled "Why Can NBA Players Be Activists But WNBA Players Can't?", Angel Diaz notes that NBA players previously took a stance against police brutality without facing consequences from the league.

Slate writer Christina Cauterucci commended WNBA players for "setting a new standard for what sports figures can do to support political movements."

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