During the first game of the WNBA Finals, the Minnesota Lynx linked arms in solidarity during the anthem while their opponents, the Los Angeles Sparks, walked off the court and into the locker room.
The WNBA’s visible protest is no surprise: They’ve been the most socially conscious professional sports league for a while now. This demonstration is just the latest example in a long line of actions WNBA players have taken to protest injustice. Yet much of the media attention about anthem protests ignores the leadership role these women have taken. Sadly, this is part of a larger trend when it comes to women—and Black women in particular—not receiving the credit they deserve. In the United States, women’s sports are considered “second tier,” causing all women’s professional sports, including the WNBA, to fight for viewers and ticket sales.
Women athletes earn less money (even when outperforming their male counterparts), and their accomplishments are often downplayed, their status as athletes almost always prefaced with the descriptor “woman.” Hell, it has been implied that Serena Williams—the most dominant tennis player of all time—would be less successful if she played in the men’s division. Yet women athletes are also at the forefront of political activism, which goes largely overlooked as the media focus falls on male athletes such as Colin Kaepernick, Michael Bennett, and LeBron James.