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Volume 25 No. 199
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Breanna Stewart Emerges As Socially Conscious Face Of WNBA

Stewart has advocated for voter registration and also shown public support for Black Lives Matter
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

There is "absolutely no doubt" that Seattle Storm F Breanna Stewart is "emerging as a prominent voice of not just the Storm, but the WNBA," according to Larry Stone of the SEATTLE TIMES. Her national profile is "growing rapidly," and Stewart is "increasing social activism." Stewart wrote an article in The Players’ Tribune last year "revealing she was molested as a child for two years by her aunt’s husband." Three weeks ago, when Stewart won league MVP, she "advocated for voter registration." Stewart has "shown support publicly for Black Lives Matter and gay rights, and she wore a shirt that said, 'Wild Feminist' to the Nickelodeon Kids Choice sports award ceremony." Last year, Stewart "joined in a protest" in L.A. at LAX over President Trump’s immigration policy. And in '16, in her acceptance speech after winning an ESPY award as the Best Female Athlete, Stewart "pushed for more attention for WNBA athletes." Storm F Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis said, "She realizes the platform she has, the positive influence she can be for everyone. So if she can help, she’s more than willing to do that" (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/16).

LOUD AND PROUD: In Boston, Shira Springer wrote WNBA players and coaches advocating for improvements "have been getting loud" when it comes to "better pay, better media coverage, better travel accommodations, better marketing efforts, better sponsorship deals." They are using "whatever platforms they have -- usually Twitter -- and speaking out in ways that are brash, provocative, and unapologetically agenda-driven." WNBA President Lisa Borders said, "I invite it, I implore it, I encourage folks to tell us what they’re thinking whether it’s criticism of the league or accolades for the league. At the end of the day, we will be a better league for it, to encourage that type of dialogue." Still, Springer wrote outspokenness in the WNBA and beyond "feels more like a movement than a cyclical spike in activism, more like an evolution in how competitors in women’s sports want to present themselves, more like a reflection of the confidence WNBA players have in their value and the quality of their product" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/16). Also in Boston, Gary Washburn wrote NBA and WNBA salaries are "never going to match up, but WNBA players make a compelling argument for an increase in pay." Borders said that it will "take time for the salaries to greatly improve." She said, "There is a two-generation gap between the age of the NBA and the WNBA. That’s 50 years. We do not have the revenues today to support greater revenue sharing with our players, but it’s coming" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/16).