On Monday, the W.N.B.A. he announced that his next season would be “dedicated to social justice with games in honor of the Black Lives Matter movement”.
It didn’t seem to be a relatively controversial or surprising message, considering how engaged W.N.B.A. the players have been in the movement, which has also gained support from a wide range of corporations and even the most controversial sports leagues, such as the N.F.L., since the killing of George Floyd in May.
But the expression – and the movement it supports ̵
Loeffler is now facing widespread complaints from players across the league. The W.N.B.A. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert made a statement this week dismissing the league from Loeffler. Now, the league is grappling with questions about whether an owner who appears to be fundamentally contrary to the league’s stated values can remain in his position.
The conflict opened on Tuesday after Loeffler published a letter, first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which he had written to Engelbert, expressing opposition to the league plan to allow players to wear warm-up shirts with words “Black Lives Matter” and “Say Her Name”, a reference to a movement towards spotlight Black women who died at the hands of the police.
“The truth is, we need less – no more politics in sport. At a time when the polarization of politics is more divisive than ever, sport has the power to be a unifying antidote, “wrote Loeffler. He added:” I strongly oppose the political movement Black Lives Matter, which has supported bankruptcy. the police, called for the removal of Jesus from the churches and the interruption of the nuclear family structure, hosted anti-Semitic views and promoted violence and destruction across the country. “
Instead, he asked for an American flag to be placed on each shirt when the championship starts playing later this month at the IMG Academy in Florida.
The backlash of the W.N.B.A. the community was immediate. The players union posted on Twitter, “PRETTY! UP!” in reference to Loeffler. Engelbert released a statement that reaffirmed the league’s commitment to “vigorously support social justice”. The statement added: “Sen. Kelly Loeffler has not been governor of the Atlanta Dream since October 2019 and is no longer involved in the team’s daily activities. “
In an email statement, the dream stated: “The Atlanta dream is not a political entity – we are in the sports and entertainment industry. Dream players and staff focus on building a team of success on the field, winning games and creating a unique fan experience. “
Even the team’s statement seemed to contradict the identity that the W.N.B.A. he tried to cultivate – one of a “daring, progressive basketball championship,” as his statement said on Monday.
In fact, in 2016 W.N.B.A. the players were among the first professional athletes in the United States to demonstrate against police brutality. After initially fining those players, the W.N.B.A. course reversed, and in recent years the league has done everything to support politics and encourage its players to do the same. In 2018, for example, the W.N.B.A. collaborated with Planned Parenthood on the “Take a seat, take a position” initiative, which sent part of the ticket proceeds to several groups, including parental planning.
These initiatives have led many to wonder if Loeffler’s values can coexist with those of W.N.B.A.
“There’s no place in the league for her,” Los Angeles star Sparks Candace Parker he said on TNT Tuesday.
Terri Jackson, executive director of the National Women’s Basketball Association, said in an interview that the union plans to meet Engelbert to discuss the next steps to tackle Loeffler’s role in the W.N.B.A.
“This is not a disagreement,” said Jackson. “What we have right now is a situation where reasonable minds could agree that there is really no room for a divisive language.”
It is not clear whether the W.N.B.A. will further sanction Loeffler. A league spokeswoman declined to comment.
But Loeffler gave no indication that he plans to resign as owner. On the contrary: Wednesday night, he told Fox The news is Laura Ingraham who would not have given up her share of the property. He also cited the so-called “cancellation culture” as a reason for the backlash.
“This isn’t about me,” said Loeffler. “This is the right of all Americans to express themselves. Enjoy freedom of speech and support any cause and not be canceled. We have this culture of cancellation that is threatening America and its foundation is that Americans are afraid to speak. because of the culture of cancellation. And I won’t be silenced. “
Former high school basketball player, Loeffler took over the team, along with philanthropist Mary Brock, in 2011, forming a rare group of women-only property in professional sports.
“It was an opportunity to resolve that corporate challenge,” she told CNN of what attracted her to the team, “while being part of the growing movement towards growth in women’s professional sports.”
In 2013, Loeffler’s name was declared as a possible candidate for a Senate seat opened in Georgia to replace Republican Saxby Chambliss, a Republican. With his wealth and his status as an outsider, he was seen as a possible advantage for a race. She had also been a longtime donor to the Republicans. Eventually he continued to run.
But late last year, when Senator Johnny Isakson, a Republican from Georgia, announced that he had resigned for health reasons, there was another opportunity. Republican Governor Brian Kemp appointed Loeffler instead of President Trump’s objection to President Doug Collins, who organized a controversial special election in November. (For these elections in Georgia, there are no primaries. To win, a candidate must get 50 percent of the vote. If no candidate reaches that threshold, the first two candidates have an outflow. Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, is considered the best Democrat in the race.)
Loeffler’s appointment was a sore point for some of Trump’s most ardent supporters, and she went out of her way to prove that she was in close contact with the president, who made several inflammatory comments about the breed following Floyd’s death.
“Collins is considered very conservative and very popular with Trump supporters and I think she wants to consolidate her good faith in the same way and this could be one way to do it,” Scott H. Ainsworth, professor of political science at the university of Georgia said, referring to Loeffler’s letter to Englebert.
But the letter also drew a lot of criticism from players, including Renee Montgomery, a dream player who is stay out of season to focus on promoting social justice.
“I’m pretty sad to see that my team ownership doesn’t support movement and everything it represents,” Montgomery wrote on Twitter, by contacting Loeffler directly. “I was already sitting outside this season and this is an example of why. I’d like to have a conversation with you on the subject if you’re down? “
Layshia Clarendon, a Connecticut Sun guard, also sued Loeffler in a joint interview with Engelbert with ABC News on Tuesday.
“This is what we see so often with sport, with culture, with music, is that you are comfortable with blacks, as long as they stay in place,” said Clarendon.
Clarendon, who spent several seasons as a member of Dream, complained on Twitter that she had “shared a meal” with Loeffler and “set foot in his house”.
And Stacey Abrams, a Democrat who came second for the Georgia governor’s seat in Kemp and who joined the W.N.B.A. union of the players last summer, said Loeffler’s letter it was a “deplorable choice of division over unity” in a statement on Twitter. (One more twist: Abrams was a lawyer for Loeffler when Loeffler purchased the Dream.)
The conflict extended to the Senate race. Collins expressed agreement with many W.N.B.A. on Tuesday players, but for a different reason: he asked Loeffler to “quit the liberal agenda support program business” and sell his stake in the Dream. Dr Warnock, on the contrary, said that Loeffler “chose to give in to the close impulses of tribalism and bigotry”.
While Loeffler’s future role with the league is unclear, Engelbert clarified his organization’s position in the interview with ABC: “Kelly’s views are inconsistent with those of W.N.B.A. and its players.”