NEW YORK (AP) — The WNBA has withdrawn its fines for teams that showed support of citizens and police involved in recent shootings by wearing black warmup shirts before games.
Members of the New York Liberty basketball team shout after a team huddle prior to a game against the Atlanta Dream, Wednesday, July 13, 2016 in New York. Between the Black Lives Matter movement, the Orlando shooting and the LGBT community, more WNBA players have been taking active roles in expressing their views on social issues. In the midst of “Camp Day” at the New York Liberty’s mid-morning game Wednesday, Liberty players stood in solidarity as they donned all-black warmups in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
WNBA President Lisa Borders said in a statement Saturday the league was rescinding penalties given to the Indiana Fever, New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury and their players for wearing the shirts during pregame protests, which began after shootings in Minnesota and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Each organization was fined $5,000 and players were each given a $500 penalty because WNBA rules stated that uniforms may not be altered in any way. The normal fine for uniform violations is $200.
“While we expect players to comply with league rules and uniform guidelines, we also understand their desire to use their platform to address important societal issues,” Borders said. “Given that the league will now be suspending play until August 26th for the Olympics, we plan to use this time to work with our players and their union on ways for the players to make their views known to their fans and the public.”
The fines seemed to galvanize the players, who have used postgame interview sessions and social media to voice their displeasure. There has also been public criticism of the fines, including from NBA star Carmelo Anthony.
The Rev. Al Sharpton said early Saturday his organization, the National Action Network, would pay the $500 fines. He called the penalty “unacceptable.”