The 2020 WNBA season is set to kick off tomorrow Saturday, July 25th in Bradenton, Florida at IMG Academy. Opening weekend will be dedicated to the Black Lives Matter Movement with all aspects of the game and player uniforms designed to affirm Black Lives Matter, honor victims of police brutality and racial violence.
Tip-Off is presented by AT&T and gets underway at 12p.m. eastern as the Seattle Storm take on the New York Liberty. During opening weekend there will be back-to-back days of national triple-header telecast across ABC, ESPN, and CBS Sports Network. With a 22-game schedule for each of the 12 teams, the WNBA plans to continue building the momentum for women sports despite setbacks due to COVID-19.
Although some players will be lacing up their sneakers getting ready to play this weekend, many others have decided to sit this season out to focus on other matters. One of the first to make this announcement was 11-year WNBA veteran Renee Montgomery who plays for the Atlanta Dream. Montgomery announced that she would opt out of the 2020 season stating that her decision to sit out was 100% based on her desire to work towards social justice. A similar move was made just last winter by Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx who decided to take the season off to support the case of Jonathan Irons, a man she believes was wrongfully convicted of a crime. Moore has also decided to sit out the 2020 WNBA season as well to push for criminal justice reform.
Washington Mystics’ Natasha Cloud will also be sitting out the 2020 season in order to continue fighting for social justice. Cloud took to Instagram stating “There’s a lot of factors that led to this decision, but the biggest being that I am more than an athlete. I have a responsibility to myself, to my community, and to my future children to fight for something that is much bigger than myself and the game of basketball. I will instead, continue the fight on the front lines for social reform, because until black lives matter, all lives can’t matter.”
Whether players are sitting out, for health reasons or to pursue other matters, this does not always mean missing out. It’s time to normalize the idea of taking time off for whatever reason, without making people feel bad about or questioning their decision. As these players sit out the 2020 season, they will take the same grind to another arena as they tackle social justice and change. Be sure to tune in this season to keep up with WNBA players efforts on and off the court!