SFGate- The WNBA has fined the Indiana Fever, New York Liberty and Phoenix Mercury and their players for wearing black warm up shirts in the wake of recent shootings by and against police officers.
All three teams were fined $5,000 and each player was fined $500 as the shirts violated the league's uniform policy. While the shirts were the Adidas brand — the official outfitter of the league — WNBA rules state that uniforms may not be altered in any way.
"What's most upsetting is the way it was handled," Indiana Fever player rep Briann January said. "You have a league that is 90 — if not above 90 percent African American — and you have an issue that is directly affecting them and the people they know and you have a league that isn't willing to side with them.
"It's not a race issue, not an anti-police issue, not a black or white issue. It's a right or wrong issue."
WNBA President Lisa Borders said Wednesday night in statement to The Associated Press the fines were not about the players speaking out on a social issue.
"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," Borders said.
That's gotta hurt. Honestly, is there a more scathing way to be made aware that you are not considered important to your employer than by getting fined for wearing a pre-game t-shirt that supports an honorable, non-threatening cause? If there is then I can't of it, but that's the message that the WNBA is sending to it's players. A message that states they are replaceable, because if they weren't then a business would always be inclined to side with it's talent. The NFL is an exception because there's not a single player that is bigger than their brand, but did you see any NBA players getting fined or suspended when they decided to collectively wear shirts that were far more pointed at the police force? I think you know the answer to that, and the reason being is that the NBA is player driven league that wouldn't want to offend or trivialize the people responsible for it's popularity.
This is not to say that I don't think that WNBA players should have the right to express themselves freely in response to a societal injustice. I absolutely do. I think the security guards that left when the Minnesota Lynx came out in shirts that honored all of the recently deceased should have been kicked off the force for acting like children when presented with an opportunity to stand for what's right instead of stomping off in support of what's right for them specifically. I think the WNBA looks stupid for levying out monetary penalties to it's participants that did nothing to damage their product. Still, the fact that they feel comfortable doing so - in the face of racial unrest - is a sign that they know the voices of their players aren't ones that the general public is particularly interested in hearing from. That might not be fair or just, but - unfortunately for them - it's the truth.