WNBA fines teams and players for protest shirts

The New York Liberty were fined for altering warm up uniforms to plain black. Associated Press file photo.
The New York Liberty were fined for altering warm up uniforms to plain black. Associated Press file photo.

The WNBA has fined the New York Liberty, the Phoenix Mercury and the Indiana Fever and its players for altering team warm ups to protest recent shootings across the United States.

A spokesperson for the league confirmed that the three teams had altered team warm ups or uniforms over the last week, which is a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that the WNBA has with the Women’s National Basketball Players Association. The three teams were notified over the last few days of the fines.

The teams fined were three of five franchises whose athletes had opted to wear shirts expressing support for the “Black Lives Matter” movement and recent shooting victims, including Dallas Police officers.

WNBA President Lisa Borders said the league didn’t object to the activism of players, but to the uniform alterations.

“We are proud of WNBA players’ engagement and passionate advocacy for non-violent solutions to difficult social issues, but expect them to comply with the league’s uniform guidelines,” Borders said.

The guidelines stipulate that there be no change to uniforms or warm ups worn to and from the playing floor, the league spokesperson said. Teams were given a memo over the weekend reminding them of the warm up and uniform compliance policy with sponsor Adidas.

The Liberty wore protest shirts prior to their games Sunday and Wednesday, and the Mercury and Fever wore their shirts Tuesday. The Minnesota Lynx, who donned similar shirts July 9, and the Dallas Wings, who wore shirts in protest Sunday, were not fined, the spokesperson confirmed.

The WNBA did not disclose how much teams and players were fined, but two players from one of the affected teams reported on twitter that each franchise was fined $5,000, and each player, $500.

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