WNBA Players Were Fined For Wearing Black Lives Matter Warm Up Shirts

After the deaths of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and five Dallas police officers this month, most people feel the need to speak out. But the WNBA fined teams for wearing Black Lives Matter t-shirts, and it’s kind of bullshit. The league fined three teams —New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury, and Indiana Fever  — and the players individually for wearing plain black Adidas t-shirts, which is the official uniform sponsor, and shirts that had “#BlackLivesMatter” and “#Dallas5″ on them during their games. According to ESPN, The Liberty have worn the plain black shirts fours time and the other teams each wore them once, during games Tuesday night. The fine for wearing the t-shirt is $500 for each player, which given the $40,000 salary for rookies, is a lot of fucking money.

Because sure, uniform policies are uniform policies. But after the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the league gave players shirts to wear to memorialize the victims. Why they won’t let them wear Black Lives Matter t-shirts that also memorialize the slain police officers is beyond me. Both issues are about gun violence and prejudice. Everyone should stand with everyone.

“We are proud of WNBA players’ engagement and passionate advocacy for non-violent solutions to difficult social issues but expect them to comply with the league’s uniform guidelines,” WNBA President Lisa Borders told the Associated Press. But apparently there’s a fine line between advocacy and a uniform violation.

I think rocking t-shirts that acknowledge the issues should fall under “passionate advocacy,” but apparently not. According to ThinkProgress, the Minnestoa Lynx wore the shirt just once and stopped after a warning was sent out, avoiding the fines, but their security walked off their posts when they saw the team wearing the shirts.

One player, Mistie Bass of the Phoenix Mercury, tweeted her outrage at getting fined.

“Don’t say we have a voice and then fine us because we use it. #notpuppets #cutthestrings,” she wrote. Apparently, the league was OK with the shirts just a week ago and there wasn’t any further warning except a memo to comply with uniform standards, which is why the teams switched to the plain black, official Adidas shirts so that they didn’t mess with any sponsorships. Last week, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he encouraged protest,”I actually think it demonstrates that these are multidimensional people. They live in this society, and they have strong views about how things should be. So I’m very encouraging of that.”

He also said it was a “slippery slope,” and he didn’t want the court used as a “political forum.” Why Black Lives Matter is a slippery slope but supporting Orlando shooting victims is not is sort of beyond me. They’re both political. And you can’t say the players should speak out and then fine them $500 for doing do.

In the meantime, the players said they will find other ways to speak out and support causes off the court in the lead up to the Olympics.

Tags: wnba