WNBA president on rescinded fines: We needed to move forward

Published 8:22 am Tuesday, July 26, 2016

WNBA President Lisa Borders said she hopes that rescinding the fines the league imposed over black warmup shirts worn in solidarity for shooting victims will lead to a fresh start on social activism for the players and their union.

“I would tell you in reflection, recognizing that we were at an impasse, we needed to move forward in the future,” she said Monday in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “In order to do that, stop what you’re doing currently, take a breath and re-engage. Rescinding the fines allowed us to do that, along with the Olympic break.”

It had been a tense week for the WNBA and its players after the league decided to impose $500 fines on three teams for wearing the black warmup shirts in response to recent shootings by and against police officers, saying the shirts were a uniform violation. The fines seemed to galvanize the players, who used postgame interview sessions and social media to voice their displeasure. There also was public criticism of the fines, including from NBA star Carmelo Anthony. The league announced Saturday that the fines had been withdrawn.

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“When we came to this decision most recently we realized it was a very complex issue,” Borders said. “There was no right way to deal with it. We had a traditional response to a nontraditional situation. Our players wanted to lift their voices on the court as well as off the court.”

The players were happy that the league had changed course and rescinded the fines.

“Because of this and how we were able to communicate as players, that’s really important,” said Tamika Catchings, president of the players’ association. “That’s a great thing. We’ve gotten players more engaged with the union and on social issues. Now I feel because of this, it brought our players home and more together and more focused on our voice and what we collectively stand for.”

Though the league is on a break until the end of August, Borders said conversations have renewed between the WNBA and its players. They will talk a lot during the month-long Olympic break.