The WNBA gives a lesson on choosing political action over empty words

The WNBA gives a lesson on choosing political action over empty words

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Kayleigh McEnany tests positive, all eyes are on the VP debate, and why the WNBA won’t say her name. Have a healthy Tuesday.

– She who must not be named. While most of the U.S.’s attention is, understandably, focused on presidential politics, I was interested to see that the New York Times yesterday ran a pair of stories focused on a certain female member of Congress.

If I were a WNBA player, I wouldn’t get any more specific than that. While I am a fan, I haven’t dribbled a basketball since junior high, so I’ll spell it out: Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

The first NYT story digs into how Loeffler—who is perhaps best known for making some very profitable stock trades soon after senators received a private briefing on COVID-19—went from “from political moderate to ‘more conservative than Attila the Hun.’” It’s an object lesson in how the GOP has moved Trump-ward in an attempt to appeal to—or at least to avoid punishment by—the President’s base. (Loeffler, who was appointed to her seat, is running in a special election in November.)

The second piece offers a very different type of lesson. In addition to serving in Congress, Loeffler is the co-owner of WNBA team the Atlanta Dream. The league, as we’ve covered before, has been at the forefront of the push for racial justice in America. Meanwhile, Loeffler has called Black Lives Matter a “dangerous Marxist movement” and falsely claimed that it has “promoted violence and destruction across the country.”

But rather than respond directly—engaging in the type of high-profile back-and-forth that might rile up the voters Loeffler is trying to court—the WNBA players have publicly engaged with political figures like Michelle Obama and Stacey Abrams, moved en masse to support Loeffler’s opponent, and, perhaps most potently, declined to use the senator’s name.

At a time when so much of our political and social discourse revolves around bad faith arguments and name calling, the players decision to choose silence—and action!—could not speak more loudly.

“Words have power,” Nneka Ogwumike, Los Angeles Sparks forward and president of the league’s players’ association, told the NYT. “And to give energy to a name I think is very meaningful. So, we stopped saying that name.”

Kristen Bellstrom
[email protected]

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

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