In response to the deadly shootings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and five Dallas police officers, members of the New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury, and Indiana Fever have been wearing black warmup shirts as a form of protest against the recent acts of violence. Today, the WNBA fined them for doing so.
The trend was started last week by players on the Minnesota Lynx, who wore black warmup shirts that read “Change Starts With Us: Justice & Accountability” on the front, and had the names of Castile and Sterling alongside a Dallas PD emblem and Black Lives Matter logo on the back.
The New York Liberty followed suit, donning black warmups that had #BlackLivesMatter and #Dallas5 printed on them. This prompted the WNBA to send a memo to teams, warning them that violations of the official uniform policy could result in fines.
The Liberty responded by removing the slogans from their warmups, instead wearing plain black shirts that featured nothing but a small Adidas logo. They wore the plain black shirts four times, and the Fever and Mercury wore them on Tuesday night. As a result, each team has been fined $5,000, and each player who wore a black shirt was fined $500.
In a statement issued to the Associated Press, WNBA president Lisa Borders said, “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.”
The Phoenix Mercury’s Mistie Bass is understandably confused by that line of reasoning: