WNBA players want U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler out as Atlanta Dream co-owner
Loeffler appeared on Fox News calling armed Black protesters in Atlanta “mob rule.” She also posted a message on Twitter in support of the anti-LGBT group Family Project Alliance of Georgia.
WNBA players are calling for U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler to “cut all ties with the league” after the Dream co-owner was critical of the league’s support of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
On Tuesday, one day after the WNBA announced its social justice initiatives for the upcoming season, Loeffler, who has been one of the Dream’s two primary owners since 2011, sent a letter to commissioner Cathy Engelbert explaining why she opposed the league’s plan for players to wear warm-up shirts that read “Black Lives Matter” on the front and “Say Her Name” on the back, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“All of us have a constitutional right to hold and to express our views,” wrote Loeffler, who instead suggested the league put an American flag on each jersey. “But to subscribe to a particular political agenda undermines the potential of the sport and sends a message of exclusion.
“The truth is, we need less — not more politics in sports.”
Many players have reacted to the Loeffler situation with frustration and disappointment.
“There’s no place [for Loeffler] in the WNBA, a league that is the majority minority,” Sparks star Candace Parker said on TNT. “We’ve had a number of people that have stepped forward and listened and have taken initiative and taken action and we’ve had those that haven’t and continue to make comments and show why we’re still in this situation.”
“I can’t believe I ever stepped foot in Kelly’s house and shared a meal with her,” tweeted Liberty guard Layshia Clarendon, who spent more than two seasons with the Dream. “It’s actually really hurtful to see her true colors. I had no idea while I played for ATL she felt this way. Happy to own us as long as we stay quiet and perform.”
The Women’s National Basketball Players’ Association took a hard stance against Loeffler, tweeting: “E-N-O-U-G-H! O-U-T!”
Sky guard Sydney Colson, a member of the inaugural WNBA/WNBPA Social Justice Council, chimed in, too, tweeting: “Let me be clear: we don’t give a damn what you think [Loeffler]. Cut all ties with the league, stop giving your bigoted opinions about black affairs, & tend to ur (sic) insider trading sweetheart.”
Loeffler was accused in March of potential insider trading after she sold stocks before the economy tanked due to the coronavirus pandemic, though she was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing.
In a statement released Tuesday, Engelbert downplayed Loeffler’s involvement with the Dream and said the league plans to support its players — 80% of whom are Black women — in their activism this season.
“The WNBA is based on the principle of equal and fair treatment of all people and we, along with the teams and players, will continue to use our platforms to vigorously advocate for social justice,” Engelbert said. “Sen. Kelly Loeffler has not served as a Governor of the Atlanta Dream since October 2019 and is no longer involved in the day-to-day business of the team.”
However, Loeffler is still a member of the Dream’s ownership group.
This isn’t the first time the Republican senator has drawn ire from current and former players.
During an appearance on Fox News last month, Loeffler called Atlanta demonstrators carrying guns during a police brutality protest “mob rule.” She also recently shared support on Twitter of the Family Project Alliance of Georgia, an anti-LGBTQ group.
Hall of Famer Sheryl Swoopes, who’s been vocal on Twitter about her opposition of Loeffler, said the “WNBA MUST do better!” Several other big-name players, including Sue Bird, Skylar Diggins-Smith and Natasha Cloud, have echoed Swoopes’ sentiment.