WNBA President Lisa Borders said she is encouraging players to continue making their voices heard on current issues. Last month Borders fined New York, Indiana and Phoenix players for violating league uniform rules after they wore black T-shirts in protest of recent police shootings, as well as the shooting of Dallas police officers. But the first-year league president rescinded the fines after criticism by players and critics on social media.
“Our players are athletes professionally, but they are people just like you and I with a social conscious,” said Borders Sunday to the MSR. She was in town and participated in a pre-game panel discussion to women and girls. She spoke to us beforehand.
The WNBA players’ protests first started with the Minnesota Lynx players wearing black T-shirts after the Philando Castile shooting — the players and the team were not fined, but given a warning against violating uniform rules. Other players and teams followed suit.
After she reversed her decision, Borders held a closed-door meeting with the U.S.
Olympic women’s basketball team — all 12 members are league players — the men’s team, community groups, and police officials in Los Angeles, prior to the teams leaving for the Olympic in Rio.
Each team afterwards received suggested guidelines on how to continue the discussion on the issue, reported Borders. “That [meeting] was a really nice model we think can be used in every market of the W,” she noted.
The president further explained that the players’ speaking out is part of a process which usually occurs in “change movements” — awareness, alignment and then action, she said.
“Our players wore T-shirts as part of the awareness portion,” said Borders. “Now we’re moving to alignment, to really start to talk with people about what is it that we need to [do] to fix the problem. Now we can lead conversations with our community. Our players will be on the front line doing this.”
Borders visited both locker rooms after Sunday’s Minnesota-Seattle contest. “Every interaction I’ve had with her have been good,” said Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson after the president’s visit. “She’s able to lead us in the direction we need to go.”
“Our players love this game,” said Borders, who, despite the controversy, said that she loved how her players took the lead in moving the discussion forward. Many W players “have found their voices and are using that voice constructively. I am thrilled to see them step up and speak up,” she concluded.
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Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.