WNBA Initiative Directs Portion Of Ticket Sales To Women's Causes
The '18 WNBA season begins tonight, and the league is launching a new "Take a Seat, Take a Stand" program that "directs a portion of WNBA ticket sales to spectators’ choice of national nonprofits that champion causes ranging from sexual assault prevention to women's health," according to Celeste Katz of GLAMOUR. The campaign "may be new to the league, but social and political engagement are decidedly not." WNBA President Lisa Borders said, “This is very much encoded, I think, in the DNA of the WNBA.” She added that the "fund-raising partnerships formalize that aspect of the league's identity." An anthemic promo video "crystallizes the message, coupling footage of WNBA players and pink-hatted marchers on the move." WNBAers "were actually ahead" of Colin Kaepernick in "using their platform to make their views known." Players from the Lynx in '16 "put on shirts that said 'Change Starts With Us: Justice & Accountability' and spoke out on the police shootings of two black men." Liberty players also "warmed up for a game in shirts emblazoned with the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter." Borders said, “Take a Seat, Take a Stand is the next iteration of that desire to use the sports platform as (one) that will draw in folks who believe, as we believe, that we should all be equal, that we should all have opportunity, that we should all stand together." Katz noted six national organizations are "working with the WNBA on the drive." Plans are also in the works to "add options to support local organizations keyed to each team's home city" (GLAMOUR.com, 5/17).
MOVING FORWARD: In DC, Rick Maese notes the WNBA's $5 donation for each ticket sold will only "apply to single-game ticket sales," and teams will have the "opportunity to designate up to six games for the promotion." Fans at these games "can choose which one of six national nonprofits should receive the donation, and individual teams are likely to incorporate local causes and organizations as well." The WNBA selected six organizations that "focus on women’s issues." One of them is Planned Parenthood, and Borders said that the league has "no concerns about negative reaction, noting that the organization’s primary mission is to provide health care and education for women and children across the country." The league has been the "most progressive in American sports, and players have long tackled a variety of social issues." Borders said, “This is all about relevance and resonance and being part of the cultural ecosystem. Sports does that. It unites people. And so we want to make sure that we pull that lever, and pull it hard” (WASHINGTON POST, 5/18). Borders also said that she thinks this initiative "will speak directly to young women" after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver last month said that he "didn’t think the WNBA was connecting well enough with young women and girls." Borders: “It’s a call to action for women, not to just support the W but also when you support the W you’re supporting not just basketball alone, but you’re supporting women.” The AP's Doug Feinberg noted this initiative was "planned before Silver’s comments." The WNBA has also "hired a company to do a yearlong review of the league and come up with a strategic plan" (AP, 5/17).
CONTINUING THE CAUSE: The GLOBE & MAIL's Rachel Brady notes the SheIS initiative, spearheaded by the CWHL, WNBA and other leagues, is the "first time female pro sports leagues have joined together for the launch of one cause." Various leaders from women's pro sports leagues met in April at the WNBA’s N.Y. HQ to "speak in front of supporters and investors." They partnered with TSN to film a PSA, and they "launched a campaign on social media." Borders said, "Each one of us has a small slice of the sports ecosystem, but when you put us all together, you can create a lot of buzz about women’s professional sports. We believed we could be more impactful together than each of us walking alone.” Brady notes SheIS is "now its own business, fully incorporated" in both Canada and the U.S. It has "filed in both countries for charitable status and is supported by its partnering leagues -- either via funding or resources, such as marketing support" (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/18).