WNBA Fines Players Wearing Black Lives Matter Shirts

| by Michael Doherty
WNBA players wearing Black Lives Matter shirts.WNBA players wearing Black Lives Matter shirts.

The WNBA issued fines to players who wore shirts that expressed solidarity with Black Lives Matter and commemorated recent shootings of both police and black people.

The teams whose players wore the shirts, including the New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury and Minnesota Lynx were fined $5,000, and each player was fined $500, according to The Associated Press.

The WNBA said it issued the fines not to silence the players' political speech, but because the shirts violated standard guidelines for uniforms in the league.

The shirts, which were black with the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter and #Dallas5 in white lettering, were Adidas brand, the official sponsor of the WNBA, but the league's guidelines state uniforms cannot be altered in any way.

"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," WNBA President Lisa Borders said in a statement to AP.

The Liberty wore the shirts four times, and has reached what the team's players said was a compromise, in which they will continue to wear plain black Adidas shirts, but not alter them. The Lynx only wore the shirts during one game.

Mistie Bass, forward for the Mercury, tweeted about the league's decision.

"Don't say we have a voice and then fine us because we use it," she posted, adding the hashtags #NotPuppets and #CutTheStrings.

The teams reportedly wore the shirts in remembrance of the July shooting deaths of two black men at the hands of police officers, as well as five Dallas police officers who were shot during a protest.

Liberty player Kiah Stokes said the players had purposely chosen Adidas shirts to align with the WNBA's sponsorships, but said on Twitter that it was "just unfortunate," and that their choice "obviously didn't matter" to the WNBA, ThinkProgress reports.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had praised the players' actions in an AP story published before the WNBA's decision to fine the players was announced.

"I actually think it demonstrates that these are multidimensional people," said Silver. "They live in this society, and they have strong views about how things should be. So I’m very encouraging of that."

Source: AP via ESPN, ThinkProgress, AP / Photo credit: Twitter via ThinkProgress

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