The WNBA has put it out on Main Street: This is the time. Their words match their actions. Three of the WNBA’s biggest stars, Imani McGee-Stafford, Natasha Cloud and Renee Montgomery will not be competing in the WNBA’s 22-game hoop bubble season next month in Bradenton, Fla, citing this being the time to dive fully into social justice issues and reform. McGee-Stafford will be going to law school.
For players still leaning toward going to Florida, 11-year WNBA veteran Angel McCoughtry has an interesting idea of how to remain on the court but still make a poignant statement. McCoughtry has proposed placing the names of police brutality victims on the back of WNBA players’ jerseys.
In an Instagram post Monday, McCoughtry said that she is working with her team, the Las Vegas Aces, and the league, asking that players be allowed to place the first and last name of a person that has been injured or killed due to police violence on the back. She asked fans to sign the petition that is in her bio and plans to give it to the league. She wants players once they have selected an individual to be able to make a relationship with the family of the victim.
McCoughtry’s idea is thoughtful and the league and players building a relationship with the victims’ families (and getting their stories out) is important as well.
As we have learned throughout the years with traumatic police violence, those stories won’t burst onto the national stage until there is significant noise made on social media platforms. McCoughtry’s jersey idea is an excellent way to have one player with influence bring stories that haven’t garnered significant attention to light.
With Colin Kaepernick’s part protests during the national anthem, some assume it’s the only form of public protest an athlete can do on game day. McCoughtry’s jersey idea could garner that same amount of attention and there would be a specific story attached to each athlete. If the broadcasting crew chooses to read one of the names on the back of a player’s jersey and begins to share a little of that person’s story, the public will be exposed to more of these egregious incidents.
LeBron James stated earlier this month NBA “players can do both” — fighting for social justice and playing basketball without being distracted. One might think he has something up his sleeve, maybe his own protest of police brutality and call for social justice. If not, McCoughtry’s idea could work with their jerseys as well.
UPDATE: The Atlanta Dream’s Tiffany Hayes also announced on IG that she, too, is opting out of the 2020 season.