The WNBA has joined the NBA and multiple MLB teams in postponing their three scheduled games on Aug. 26, a decision made following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, WI, on Aug. 23. Blake was shot multiple times outside his car with his three children still in the vehicle, reportedly leaving him with a severed spinal cord and shattered vertebrae, paralyzed from the waist down.
The WNBA had initially decided to play the games, pausing every seven minutes to stage a protest in recognition of the seven shots fired during Blake's shooting. After discussions, teams instead decided to sit out. "The consensus is to not play in tonight's slate of games and to kneel, lock arms, and raise fists during the national anthem," said Atlanta Dream centre Elizabeth Williams, speaking as a representative for all the players. "What we have seen over the last few months, and most recently with the brutal police shooting of Jacob Blake, is overwhelming. And while we hurt for Jacob and his community, we also have an opportunity to keep the focus on the issues and demand change."
"This isn't just about basketball," Washington Mystics guard Ariel Atkins told ESPN. "We aren't just basketball players, and just because we are basketball players doesn't mean that's our only platform. We need to understand that, when most of us go home, we still are Black. Our families matter." The Mystics arrived at the game wearing shirts that spelled "Jacob Blake" with seven red bullet holes drawn on the back of each. "We matter," Atkins continued. "I'm tired of telling people that. I know I matter."
The games scheduled for tonight were between the Dream and the Mystics, the Los Angeles Sparks and Minnesota Lynx, and the Connecticut Sun and Phoenix Mercury. The WNBA has not released information about when the games will be rescheduled.
The WNBA, which dedicated its season to social justice, made the announcement following the NBA's postponement of three playoff games scheduled for today, a decision prompted when the Milwaukee Bucks sat out their game against the Orlando Magic. In the MLB, players in two games have so far decided to sit out.
In her statement, Williams emphasised the importance of these choices. "These moments are why it's important for our fans to stay focussed, hear our voices, know our hearts, and connect the dots from what we say to what we do."