JUST IN: WNBA Attempts Damage Control After Levying Hypocritical Fines (VIDEO)

The WNBA has chosen to lift all fines previously put on players who wore black warm-up shirts supporting both civilians and police officers involved in recent shootings. The three teams penalized were the Indiana Fever, New York Liberty, and Phoenix Mercury, who were each fined $5,000, in addition to the $500 fined to each individual player participating.

The penalty was handed out due to a rule from the WNBA stating that team uniforms cannot be altered in any way. This includes the warmup outfits worn before games.

While we can all appreciate the gesture made by these players, we can also understand where the WNBA is coming from with these fines. Organizations have rules, and each violation should be treated the same way, right?

Uncovering The Issue

That’s where the problem arises. The normal penalty for a uniform violation is roughly $200, not $500. It is also worth noting that back in 2014, players in the NBA wore shirts reading, “I can’t breathe” after Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, was killed by a police officer while being placed in a choke-hold. They were not penalized.

If the NBA chose not the fine its players, why did the WNBA initially do so, especially considering the much lower amount of media coverage the women’s league versus the men’s league received? 

New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony is taking a stand with the women, saying in an interview last Thursday:

Everybody has their own freedom of speech. If they decide to use the platforms to do that, I don’t see any reasons for anybody to get fined. We did it. The NBA did it two years ago. The NBA was very supportive. I don’t see why it would be different this time.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton even joined in by saying the National Action Network would pay the $500 fines. Thankfully it will no longer have to.

It makes sense to get in trouble for uniform violations in normal circumstances, but this was not a normal circumstance. We are living in times of pain and tragedy and how we respond to it can drastically shape the course of history. And in a society that idolizes athletes, it is important to allow these athletes the ability to speak out, especially when they’re supporting those suffering.

Pushing Agendas

The WNBA is taking a stance on the issue, whether they realize it or not. Shortly after the Orlando shootings, the league had players wear special shirts for the cause. Now that the players are supporting a different cause, the WNBA is not OK with it.

Liberty guard Tanisha Wright said in response to the Orlando shirts:

We were OK with that, we wanted to support that, but also, they can’t pick and choose what initiatives to support and what not to support just because it doesn’t push their agenda. This is important to us.”

It’s hard to say exactly what the agenda of the higher ups in the league actually is, but the decision to fine players supporting an important cause is not making them look good right about now.

Picking and choosing which causes to support and which ones not to support makes the WNBA a politically charged organization promoting opinions that not everyone in the league agrees with.

Obviously, a great deal of discussion needs to take place between the league and its players, but it’s safe to say that something needs to change in the realms of their freedom of speech. They can keep their uniforms standard during the games, but why not allow for more expression during warmup? These are popular figures in American society. Why not allow them to try to enact change?


Featured Image: Screenshot Via Newsy YouTube Video.

Nicole is a recent graduate of Hope College, where she spent her senior year as Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Anchor student newspaper. She has passions for journalism, documentary filmmaking and photography. She is also fundamentally opposed to the Oxford comma. Nicole is currently taking a gap year before pursuing a master's degree in journalism.