By Joshua M Hicks (@jhicks042)
A WNBA owner found herself square in the middle of one of the most visible and vital United States Senate elections ever, one that wound up in a runoff that many political analysts said would have an out sized impact on the immediate future of the country.
Instead of existing in the race as an extension of the league that she’s done business in for a decade, one that has firmly stood for social justice causes and led on the front-lines of professional sports’ backing of protest in the name of Black Lives Matter in 2020, United States Senator and partial Atlanta Dream owner Kelly Loeffler made herself into a reactionary and intolerant candidate who stood unashamedly with disgraced lame duck president Donald Trump and cynically pandered to the most backward thinking of Georgians, thinking there was no possible way the Southern state could possibly turn full blue after decades as a Republican stronghold.
Turns out that didn’t work out well for her.
Raphael Warnock, Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church where Dr. Martin Luther King once preached, defeated Loeffler in the run-off earlier this month and that should only be the first job she loses out on in 2021 as she looks to be in the process of losing her ownership stake in the Dream, which is reportedly being put on the market for new ownership. Loeffler has since stated that she will not remove herself from her minority ownership stake.
LeBron James hints at ownership of WNBA’s Atlanta Dream (USA Today)
Figuring that Loeffler gives in and relinquishes her stake in the business, many notable names across sports and entertainment have given mention to their willingness to get in on the ATL women’s basketball sweepstakes. An impressive group of Black excellence could stand to be involved in the Dream for years to come and one person that should be at the table of the initial discussions and beyond is Colin Kaepernick.
Loeffler has owned the Dream for years and as a very successful female businessman has seemed to very much fit the profile of a person the league would want to help steer one of its franchises — with co-owner Mary Brock, the two have comprised a rare all-female ownership group and the only such group in Atlanta professional sports.
But in the era of Trump, Loeffler has done little beyond straining her own credibility, especially with the player community she pledged to work with upon taking ownership of the Dream. Loeffler openly declared her opposition to the correlation of sports and social justice and claimed her disapproval of the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor killings and protests.
There was an expectation on Loeffler’s behalf that her players on the Dream would follow suit with her beliefs or at the least not try and oppose her but the Dream proved her wrong and they did no less than turn on the entire sports world to what was going on in Georgia as WNBA players ultimately campaigned the world to vote for Warnock. And even though only voters in Georgia could turn the tide for the Reverend, enough did, making a candidate who once polled at 9 percent in the state into a historical election victor.
We must not forget the roles WNBA players have played in standing up for social justice. The WNBA heavily contributed in making the world know about her opponent through the silent protesting of “Vote Warnock” apparel. They’ve also participated in the Say Her Name campaign in honor of Breonna Taylor, all within their experience in the bubble. Getting Loeffler out of the Senate while also putting her ownership stake at risk is all part of the fruits of the labor. They became true icons of social justice in society, but one person helped paved the way for athletes to be more outspoken and willing to use their platforms to create change, and that’s Colin Kaepernick.
From an athletic perspective, Kaepernick is a true definition of an activist: someone willing to sacrifice his career and life to shine light on social injustices and fight for equality within humanity. He utilized his platform to shed light on the unjust treatment being displayed regarding police brutality amongst black and brown minorities. As we know, society disapproved of his silent protesting and the NFL black-balled him from getting another job in the league, but his impact has led to more protests and socially conscious efforts to promote and improve social justice, including an apology from Commissioner Roger Goodell that proves that Kaepernick was right for the protests he peacefully conducted.
Off the field, Kaepernick continues to make efforts in putting his money where his mouth is, giving back to the community and running his “Know Your Rights” camp/foundation. He also was recognized by Nike as well as other groups for his efforts in fighting for social change.
The WNBA has made it known that it is a social justice league. With the league currently not having a minority majority owner in the WNBA and only one African-American owner in the NBA, having more diverse representation in the basketball from a management and ownership perspective is long overdue. Replacing Loeffler from ownership perspective only makes sense by putting people that share the same narrative. Having big time revolutionists like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Hart and other African-American celebrities create a group for the bidding is ideal and necessary.
Bringing Kaepernick to the ownership table or finding a way to get Kaepernick involved with the league in a management role, however, not only boosts the trueness of both professional leagues, but enhances the efforts both the NBA and WNBA plan to use in emphasizing and capitalizing on social justice and community efforts. Kaepernick embodies what both leagues represent. It would be true justice to get Kaepernick a seat at a table that truly understands his value and worth.
Joshua M. Hicks is a Senior Writer for WARR Media