In the early days of his presidency, Donald Trump’s incessant beef with professional athletes, beginning with his sensational broadside against Colin Kaepernick, sparked a sports movement that not only called attention to social and racial inequality, but also led to a mainstreaming of athlete activism not seen since Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were on the front lines of athlete activism. No. 4 – Breanna Stewart, the Unstoppable Ally Read MoreBut no U.S. sports league can match the ongoing dedication and sense of urgency more than the WNBA, which threw its resources behind causes ranging from prevention of sexual harassment to Planned Parenthood to educational support for LGBTQ+ youth at a time when top athletes in other organizations Early Wednesday morning, when Raphael Warnock won a runoff to unseat Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler, the co-owner of the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA, who ran on a platform that runs counter to all the 24-year-old league stands for and seems to have paid dearly for, came the latest chapter and most obvious victory in that long history. Loeffler, who has developed a reputation as an ultra-Trump loyalist since Georgia Governor Brian Kemp appointed him to the upper chamber in 2018, wrote to the commissioner of the league in June objecting to his embrace of Black Lives Matter in the aftermath of the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and calling for the sport to be depoliticized.
“supported police funding, called for the removal of Jesus from churches and the destruction of the nuclear family structure, espoused anti-Semitic views, and promoted violence and destruction across the country,”supported police funding, called for the removal of Jesus from churches and the destruction of the structure of the nuclear family, supported anti-Semitic views, and promoted national violence and destruction,”particular political agenda undermines the potential of sports and sends a message of exclusion.”specific political agenda undermines the potential of sports and sends a message of exclusion.
Inspired by Seattle Storm point guard Sue Bird, instead of spreading disapproval of the incumbent senator, they organized a campaign to wear ‘Poll Warnock’ T-shirts to games in favor of Loeffler’s Democratic challenger. The campaign was credited as a key factor in raising the profile of Warnock.pic.twitter.com/YtwexUHuvV- Phoenix Mercury August 4, 2020 (@PhoenixMercury)
I think we didn’t want to feel like pawns when all these things started happening to her,”I think when all these things started happening with her, we didn’t want to feel like pawns,” We can only regulate so much of what the league is doing [in Loeffler’s terms], so we wanted it to be bigger for us than that.
So we wanted to make sure that we were able to keep our social justice activism focused, and funnily enough, Rev Warnock is someone who embraces everything we support and runs in that seat.
Not unexpectedly, the players’ initiative attracted the attention of grassroots Political leader Stacey Abrams, who holds an advisory role on the board of the WNBA Players Association. I’m proud of these players, because it went very well. Thanks for drawing the dots between voting and social justice. One of the bright stars running for the U.S., @ReverendWarnock
Georgia Senate – he has it going on. https://t.co/w6nAFG0p6K- August 4, 2020 Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams)
It is difficult to quantify the degree to which emphatic endorsements by the players played a part in the defeat of Loeffler on Wednesday.
But a Monmouth University poll released in late July had Warnock at 9 percent and a distant fourth, 17 points behind Loeffler, as Lindsay Gibbs reported in an exhaustively comprehensive timeline that appeared in her (consistently excellent) Power Plays newsletter.
His campaign raised nearly $240,000 in donations and 4,000 new supporters after WNBA players expressed their support the following week. May: Warnock 4th in polls, 9% July 29: Warnock 4th in polls, 9% Aug. 4: WNBA players wear shirts for “Vote Warnock”Aug. 10: Warnock 3, Sept. 14 percent. 10: Warnock 3, 19% for Oct. 2: Warnock 1, Nov. 28 percent 3: Jan: Warnock forces a runoff. 5: Warnock wins a seat in the Senate—Na-Na