The WNBA isn’t typically at the center of sports controversy. But thanks to a handful of players who showed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, they’re facing some hefty fines.
Last week, the league fined the Indiana Fever, New York Liberty, and Phoenix Mercury for wearing plain black warmup shirts in support of Black Lives Matter. Each team was fined $5,000 and each individual player was fined $500. The league states that uniforms cannot be altered in any way.
Controversy and protests erupted shortly after the news spread. After the June massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, each player was given an altered uniform decorated with rainbow hearts and the slogan #OrlandoUnited. The move to fine the Black Lives Matter supporters seemed unfair and unjust.
In 2014, several high-profile NBA players wore black warmup shirts with the statement “I Can’t Breathe” written across them. It was a show of solidarity after the death of Eric Garner. These players included LeBron James, Derrick Rose, and Kyrie Irving. None of those players were penalized.
After a social media firestorm, WNBA President Lisa Borders reversed the fines on Saturday. The decision came less than 24 hours after she’d defended her decision. The league is now working with the players’ union to ensure league members can use their platform in positive ways without being punished.
WNBA games resume August 26.