WNBA players on Tuesday called for the removal of U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler as co-owner of the league’s Atlanta franchise, the Dream, after Loeffler expressed opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement and the league’s plans to add BLM and other social justice messages to team apparel this season.
The Women’s National Basketball Players Association made its point with a nine-letter tweet:
“A lot of people are great with Black people when they’re serving them in a different way, and that’s what we’ve seen so often with sports, with culture, with music . . . you’re OK with Black people as long as they kind of stay in their place or they’re performing or they’re sports stars,” Clarendon said. “Now that we’re kind of taking our power back and asking for better policing in communities, we’re asking for more resources to be poured in, I think it is uncomfortable. It’s really sad to see.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and ESPN.com reported Tuesday that Loeffler, R-Ga., wrote to WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert objecting to the uniform additions. In her letter, Loeffler also expressed why she could not support BLM.
From the AJC:
The lives of each and every African American matter, and there’s no debating the fact that there is no place for racism in our country. However, I adamantly oppose the Black Lives Matter political movement, which has advocated for the defunding of police, called for the removal of Jesus from churches and the disruption of the nuclear family structure, harbored anti-Semitic views, and promoted violence and destruction across the country. I believe it is totally misaligned with the values and goals of the WNBA and the Atlanta Dream, where we support tolerance and inclusion.
Loeffler proposed placing the American flag on jerseys rather than such phrases as “Black Lives Matter” and “Say Her Name.”
“The truth is, we need less — not more politics in sports. In a time when polarizing politics is as divisive as ever, sports has the power to be a unifying antidote,” Loeffler wrote to Engelbert, per the AJC.
Clarendon said that, for her, there is no distinction between sports and politics.
“For her to be so divisive, I think it’s really tough, and as a black woman, as a queer woman playing in sports, my existence is political. Sports is political. And so I think it was funny to ask for the flag as well at the end,” she said.
Engelbert tweeted Tuesday afternoon that Loeffler has not been a team governor since last fall and is “no longer involved in the day-to-day business of the team.”
Dream co-owner Mary Brock declined to respond in depth when reached by The Athletic.
“We’re all talking right now and I think it would be better if I didn’t comment until we have a chance to talk a little more,” she was quoted by reporter/columnist Jeff Schultz as saying.
WNBA legend Sue Bird tweeted separately Tuesday that Loeffler should go. Skylar Diggins-Smith and Natasha Cloud made similar calls last weekend on Twitter after Yahoo Sports compared Loeffler to former Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
Loeffler was appointed to the Senate by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp last January to replace Johnny Isakson, who resigned because of declining health. She is running in a November special election to serve the remainder of Isakson’s six-year term, which ends in January 2023.