Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) faces calls to step down as co-owner of the Atlanta Dream WNBA franchise after speaking out against the league’s support for the self-proclaimed Marxist organization “Black Lives Matter.”
The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) announced it will be dedicating its upcoming season to promoting BLM and joining the National Basketball Association in painting the words “Black Lives Matter” on the court sidelines. The league also plans to print the words “Black Lives Matter” and “Say Her Name” on WNBA players’ warm-up uniforms.
Loeffler, who owns 49 percent of the Atlanta Dream, wrote to the league earlier this week, upset that the WNBA is subscribing to a “particular political agenda” which “undermines the potential of the sport and sends a message of exclusion.”
“The truth is, we need less — not more politics in sports.” said Loeffler. “I adamantly oppose the Black Lives Matter political movement, which has advocated for the defunding of police, called for the removal of Jesus from churches and the disruption of the nuclear family structure, harbored anti-Semitic views, and promoted violence and destruction across the country.”
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Loeffler suggested that the players display an American flag on their uniforms instead of a politically divisive message.
Whereas most sports franchise owners have rushed to embrace the BLM movement, Loeffler is one of the few people in the sports world who is opposed to the politicization of professional sports.
Following Loeffler’s statement, the league has disavowed her. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert told ABC News, “Kelly’s views are not consistent with those of the WNBA and its players.”
The players’ union called for Loeffler to relinquish her ownership. “E-N-O-U-G-H! O-U-T!” the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) tweeted.
— WNBPA (@TheWNBPA) July 7, 2020
WNBPA executive director Terri Jackson said the union plans to meet with Engelbert to discuss the next steps and address Loeffler’s role in the league. “This is not about a disagreement,” Jackson said. “What we have right now is a situation which reasonable minds could agree that there is just no room for divisive language.”
Individual players have also taken to social media to say they want her gone, and two outspoken WNBA players, Mystics star Natasha Cloud and Liberty standout Layshia Clarendon, have made media appearances stating why Loeffler needs to go.
Seattle Storm player, Alysha Clark, told ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” that Loeffler needs to step down.
“At the WNBA we are about inclusion, we are about equality, and you are constantly seeing WNBA players at the front of social justice causes fighting for what’s right,” Clark said. “And so to have somebody apart of our league owning a team, you know, that opposes the equality of black lives…it doesn’t make sense, and she needs to go.”
ESPN host Stephen A. Smith said removing her from day-to-day operations is not enough when players are asking her to be removed from team ownership.
“I don’t want to hear any politician say politics shouldn’t be part of sports. They have nothing to say when the president comments about sports all the time,” Smith said.
Two-time WNBA champion Renee Montgomery said on TMZ Sports in a message to Loeffler, “Your views don’t mesh with WNBA culture.”
Despite the backlash, Loeffler is not entirely alone in her concern about BLM in particular. On the FOX Sports 1 show, “Speak for Yourself,” former NFL all-pro defensive end Marcellus Wiley explained that BLM’s mission statement says its goals is to end the nuclear family as we know it. Wiley maintains that intact black families lead to personal and economic success for African-Americans and balked at BLM’s claim that white supremacy was the most pressing issue for blacks in America today. “Being a father and a husband — that’s my mission in life right now,” he said.
If all this heat were not enough, Loeffler has a difficult special election ahead of her on Nov. 3, facing off against twenty candidates for her US Senate seat. Despite criticism, and a difficult election, Loeffler insists she will not be stepping down as a co-owner and stands behind her efforts to depoliticize women’s basketball.
“This week they threatened to burn the system down, literally and figuratively if they don’t get what they want,” she said in an interview with Fox News. “This is an organization that looks to destroy American principles and I had to draw the line.”