WNBA Commissioner: Using season as a ‘call to action’

published on July 9, 2020

One of the sports leox set to make theirreturn later this month is the WNBA andthis week players have started to arriveat the IMG Academy in Bradenton Floridawhere the league will host its 22 gamesseason in playoffs for the league's 12teams joining us now is WNBA

Commissioner Kathy Engelbert and WNBAplayer Laish Eclair ndon of the New YorkLiberty who serves also as first vicepresident of the WNBA's PlayersAssociation thank you so much forjoining us great to be here so

Commissioner I don't have enoughcommissioner angle Burt I'd like tostart with you as far as the plans atthe league announced this week todedicate the 2020 season to the socialjustice movement through a new platform

For players explain what the league willbe doing and also what kind of actionsthe fans will see as they watch the WNBAseason yeah I think one thing I've beenso impressed and I've been in this roleas commissioner for a little less than a

Year is how socially conscious andcommunity minded WNBA players alreadyare so this is really an amplificationof their leadership that they've alreadyshown and someone like Lygia and therest of the executive committee have

Really stepped up here and we the WNBAtotally support what the players standfor how they want to use this season asa call to action for change and you sawthings around the civil justice councilwill be you know again we have the

Opportunity the first time ever that allthe WNBA players be together here inFlorida unfortunately because of theglobal pandemics but using that as anopportunity to launch this platformAlisha's several of your fellow players

Have decided to sit the season out asyou're well aware and instead focusfull-time on social justice so how canyou make sure that the platform you haveduring the season contributes in ameaningful way to the social justice

Movement yeah it can't be mentioned youknow we have strength in numbers withhaving these 144 players together wejust never had this opportunityunfortunately I thought of some reallydire circumstances given the global

Health crisis but we have an opportunitywith being one of the first you knowlive sports still coming back to justreally amplify and use this hugeplatform that we have that people arelooking for leadership they're looking

To be inspired they're looking for youknow action steps to take and I thinkwell that's comingwe've already done this work that we youknow we point to like the direction it'sa really obvious I think easy answer

With us coming back and Commissioner youreceived a letter today from Georgiasenator Kelly Lafleur who's a co-ownerof the Atlanta Dream WNBA franchise nowshe's opposed to the league embracingblack lives matters saying that the

Movement is quote totally misalignedwith the values and goals of the WNBAand faults them for supporting defundingthe police among other criticism shegoes on to write in a time whenpolarizing politics is as divisive as

Ever Sports has the power to be aunifying antidote and now more than everwe should be united in our goal toremove politics from sports this is nota political movement that the leagueshould be embracing and I emphatically

Oppose it what's your response toSenator Lafleur and also to her call forplayers to instead have American flagson their uniforms is that it all seemedto contradict our call to removepolitics from sports well first our

Players have worked really hard on whatthey wanted this social justice platformto be for the 2020 season and we as aleague representing diverse elite femaleathletes 100% support those them from sofrom that perspective Kelly's views are

Not consistent with those of the WNBAand its players and when I first tookthis role you know I promised theplayers we were going to take a veryplayer first perspective and that's whatwe represent we're diverse we need to

Support the players on the socialjustice platform so again I'm proud ofour players that they have stepped uphere with some great ideas and we'll beworking with some social justiceadvocates and activists and and you know

To essentially amplify what what theseplayers want to get done during theseason and Lygia earlier today youtweeted I can't believe I ever steppedfoot in Kelly's house and shared a mealwith her

It's actually really hurtful to see hertrue colors I had no idea while I playedfor ATL she felt this way happy to ownus as long as we stay quiet and performsounds like you feel that Senator lafleurs saying is basically tantamount to

That now infamous statement shut up anddribble yeah totally is you know she wasgreat when we were around her and youknow a lot of people are great withblack people when they're serving themin a different

Way and that's what we've seen so oftenwith sports with culture with music isthat like you're okay with black peopleas long as they kind of stay in theirplace or their performing or theirsports stars and so now that we're kind

Of taking our power back and asking foryou know better policing in communitieswere asking for more resources to bepoured in I think it is uncomfortableyou know it's really sad to see like asangry as I am I'm really hurt because

Particularly for a woman to do that aswellthis kind of cuts the knife in a littlebit deeper and for her to be so divisiveI think it's really tough and as a blackwoman as a queer woman playing in sports

You know my existence is political likesports its political and so I think itwas funny to ask for the flag as well atthe end and yeah and so you feel likethere is this this disconnect and whatshe's asking for additionally with that

But as far as her saying that blacklives matter to appear on the the courtsor on the jerseys of uniforms isinappropriate what was your response tothat I mean I am Brianna Taylor myresponse is it's so far removed from

What this league stands for that thesame way you know the NBA guys are gorgefor like we are Brianna Taylor and thatissue she was an amazing phenomenalyoung woman was an EMT and so to see hermurdered in her home like that is that

Could have happened to Natalie a childwent to myself anyone in our league andit's just such an you know a front thatwe're fighting for basic human rightswe're literally fighting for black livesto matter in this country so I don't

Know how it could be more an importantor impactful or appropriate honestly todo it at this time when Sports isreturning in the middle of you know asocial justice revolution and Latianlastly as a player is playing the season

Worth the potential risk given thesurgeon cases it's definitely it's worthit for a lot of players and that was thefirst question we asked obviouslyinformation is changing daily still butwhen the first questions we asked we

Went before we even went to negotiatewith the league about what this newseason would look like was do you wantto play we asked the players we askedevery single player across the leagueand we heard a resounding yes the

Majority that we wanted to play you knowwe love this game it's part of alivelihood we think there's a greatopportunity with the social justicemovement right now and then secondlywe wouldn't have moved forward if we

Didn't feel comfortable with the medicalprotocol so there was a level of comfortwith knowing you know the medicalprofessionals we have and a good jobthat Kathy has done you know arrivinghere on-site and so there's definitely a

Risk involved in everybody existing inthe world right now with playing sportsbut I think we're doing is as good of ajob as we can and like having said we'refollowing the protocols I think we'repretty well off that I'm excited all

Right okay many people are excited towatch again in commissioner angle Byrdand Lygia Clarendon of the New YorkLiberty thank you both so much forjoining us we really appreciate yourtime thanks Lynsey stay healthy you also

Hi everyone George Stephanopoulos herethanks for checking out the ABC Newsyoutube channel if you'd like to getmore video show highlights and watchlive event coverage click on the rightover here to subscribe to our Channel

And don't forget to download the ABCNews app for breaking news alerts thanksfor watching

Related Videos

I believe and i think there's good enough data to say that aerosol transmission does occur so by aerosol make sure you know what we're talking about gen...
Holding a one-man demonstration about climate change in the middle of moscow might sound like a thankless task but arshak makitiyan has taken up the challenge t...
u.s democratic presidential candidate joe biden issued a warning for the united kingdom that any future trade deal between the two countries was dependent on u...
sharon if you had to describe the multi-generational workforce in one word what would it be and why power the more diversity you bring within an organization a...
Oracle has beat out rival bitter microsoft to take over the u.s operations of tick tock the popular video app that's according to sources familiar with the ...
And action it's a very historical moment and i'm very excited to be the first israeli model Shoots for an israeli brand here and i think it's gon...
Boeing has warned of a delay in deliveries of its 787 dreamliner as the plane maker found another production issue with its jet the third such flaw to appear ov...
I John Fitzgerald Kennedy do solemnly swear that you will faithfully execute The office o...
General motors is acquiring an 11 stake in electric truck maker nikola in a deal worth about two billion dollars the companies will join forces to build an elec...
Grab your phone i'd love to be our next big winner and here's how young is the second for your chance to win the car and the cash text win for six two f...
Tens of thousands of people across pakistan protested against french magazine charlie hebdo reprinting cartoons that mock the prophet muhammed the cartoons were...
I welcome everyone everyone I hope he's safe and he's staying at home and taking care of themselves and along with the family now we're gonna discus...
i survived this push them away i pushed them away and i helped my friends and i called home and my sister Answered so it was like i'm dying please send my...
so uh well i think this is the part of the freedom that Bread is allowing for the viewer to have so he juxtaposes many opposites and you have to find your wa...
Basketball legend michael jordan is taking an equity stake in draftkings and joining the board of the fantasy sports and gambling company the six-time nba champ...
investors drove the s p 500 and nasdaq to new highs tuesday apple and zoom led the rally the nasdaq shot up 1.4 the dow and s p gained three-quarters percent D...
Viola's drive for trash dominance is worth the money the french water and waste company is finally pouncing on arch rival swears it has offered 50.5 euros a...
Warren buffett is going big in japan the question is why america's most famous investor and the chairman of berkshire hathaway said on monday that he's ...
In the early days of world war ii franklin roosevelt told the country and i quote the news is going to get worse and worse before it gets better and better and ...
Today we commemorate the march on washington to jobs and freedom in 1963 where my father declared his dream but we must never forget the american nightmare of r...
Be the first to comment “WNBA Commissioner: Using season as a ‘call to action’”

There are no comments yet.