The WNBA reversed the fines imposed on three teams this weekend after fans of the Minnesota Lynx chanted “Black lives matter” at Friday night’s game. The uproar began after players for the New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury and Indiana Fever continued their support of police and Black shooting victims last week.
Atlanta Black Star reported the league had been criticized for the double standard of punishing members of the majority Black league for supporting the Black Lives Matter movement but praising the support for Orlando shooting victims.
According to the Associated Press, the WNBA decided to rescind the $5,000 fine against each team and $500 for all players involved for violating the league’s uniform code.
BREAKING: WNBA withdraws fines for teams that showed support of citizens and police involved in recent shootings
— AP Sports (@AP_Sports) July 23, 2016
Players donned black warm-up shirts that read #BlackLivesMatter and #Dallas5. The athletes purposely wore Adidas shirts to comply with dress guidelines, but the issue was with the unapproved messages on the shirts. League president Lisa Borders commended the move but did not condone noncompliance.
“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,” she said in a statement.
On Saturday, Borders continued to voice support and said removing the fines show the teams “even more support.”
Appreciate our players expressing themselves on matters important to them. Rescinding imposed fines to show them even more support.
— WNBAPrez (@WNBAPrez) July 23, 2016
One day earlier, the Lynx faced off against the Seattle Storm at Minneapolis’ Target Center, where fans backed the home team’s support of Black Lives Matter by chanting the movement’s namesake. Unlike the Liberty, Fever and Mercury teams, the Lynx were not fined for their t-shirt protest because they got approval for the messages, according to Fusion.
— Yi-Chin Lee (@_yichinlee) July 23, 2016
Post game, the Storm joined the Liberty and Fever media blackout according to The Seattle Times, refusing to discuss the game and only talk about racial injustice.
“We all have fathers, uncles, brothers, cousins, everybody who can be in this situation. Race is a very uncomfortable topic to talk about in the United States,” Storm forward Alysha Clark told the paper. “A lot of people don’t want to have it. But as the events have been unfolding here and in the last couple of years, there is a problem that needs to be addressed. It needs to be talked about.”