On Tuesday, the organization distanced itself from Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, co-owner of Atlanta’s dream, following its objection to the WNBA’s plans to honor the Black Lives Matter movement.
“The WNBA is based on the principle of equal and fair treatment of all people and we, with the teams and the players, will continue to use our platforms to vigorously defend social justice,” the league said in a communicated.
Loeffler faces scrutiny in part because of a letter she wrote, obtained by CNN and first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and ESPN, which warned the WNBA that “subscribe to a program particular policy undermines the potential of sport and sends a message of exclusion. ”
Loeffler is co-owner of Dream, the Atlanta WNBA franchise, and is the wealthiest member of the Senate. Earlier this year, Loeffler came under fire for stock trades before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the economy.
When asked for comments, a Dream spokesperson sent CNN a statement saying, “The Atlanta dream is not a political entity – we work in sports and entertainment. The players and staff of Dream focus on building a successful team on the field. , win games and create a fan experience like no other. ”
Loeffler’s letter came after the WNBA announced plans to display “Black Lives Matter” prominently on its basketball courts. League players also plan to wear warm-up shirts with the words “Black Lives Matter” displayed on the front and “Say Her Name” on the back, alongside the name of Breonna Taylor.
Former Atlanta Dream and University of Louisville player Angel McCoughtry led the campaign.
In her letter, Loeffler urged WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert to cancel the plans, instead of putting American flags on all uniforms and clothing. Loeffler, a staunch supporter of Trump, faces an intense re-election campaign against fellow Republican Doug Collins in November.
Former players and members of the WNBA Players’ Association immediately called for the withdrawal of Loeffler.
Layshia Clarendon, a former Atlanta Dream player and a member of the brand new Social Justice Council, shared her disgust with Loeffler on Twitter, writing: “I can’t believe I have ever set foot in the Kelly’s house and shared a meal with her. It’s actually really hurtful to see its true colors. I didn’t know while I was playing for ATL that she felt that. Happy to own us as long as we remain silent and perform. ”
Loeffler’s office did not respond to CNN at the time of this article’s publication. On Tuesday afternoon, however, she tweeted, “@WNBA should stand up and unite around the American flag – not divisive political movements like BLM who shamelessly seek to fund the police. ”
The WNBA plans a 22-game regular season that will begin in late July.