Ahead of its 22nd season, the WNBA launched “Take A Seat, Take A Stand
Take a Seat, Take a Stand is the WNBA’s women and girls empowerment program that will allow fans to support great organizations and help change the game for women and girls. For every ticket purchased, fans can choose from one of six organizations to which the WNBA will donate $5. A ticket donation will also be made to send a young woman or girl to a game in an effort to inspire her by the strength, talent and leadership of the women of the WNBA
Here’s what you need to know about the initiative.
Which organizations is the WNBA partnering with for Take a Seat, Take a Stand?
The six national partner organizations for Take a Seat, Take a Stand are:
- United State Of Women, a national organization for any woman who sees that we need a different America for all women to survive and thrive and wants to work collectively to achieve it.
- Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education.
- Mentor, the unifying champion for quality youth mentoring in the United States.
Bright Pink a national nonprofit focused on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women.
- Its On Us, a cultural movement aimed at fundamentally shifting the way we think about sexual assault.
In addition to these nonprofits, individual teams are also partnering with local organizations in their home cities (which will vary by team) that fans can also choose to support.
How did the WNBA select these partner organizations?
For the Take a Seat, Take a Stand program, the WNBA selected leading national organizations that are changing the game for women and girls, from promoting women’s health, to creating safe and inclusive schools for LGBTQ students, to working to prevent sexual assault.
Why did the WNBA launch Take a Seat, Take a Stand?
The WNBA was inspired to launch Take a Seat, Take a Stand by the millions of girls and women raising their voices in the current women’s movement. For over 22 years, the WNBA and its players have been on the front lines of progress for female empowerment, and gender equality.The league has been a diverse and inclusive organization since its inception. With Take a Seat, Take a Stand, the WNBA is now taking it up a level by bringing the women’s movement into the arena and uniting as a league to take a stand.
head of this summer’s season, the WNBA released a promotional video on its Facebook page. It begins not with players on the court but with a panoramic shot of a crowd filling the streets in Washington, D.C. It then cuts to players running out of the locker room, before returning to a group of women marching the famous pink pussy hats on their heads and the Capitol’s dome in the background. WNBA stars like Diana Taurasi and Elena Delle Donne appear, high-fiving their teammates.
But no one is shown taking a jump shot or dribbling the ball. Basketball plays a supporting role to images from outside the arena: “Feminist” written over a rainbow sign, a “Girls Rule” poster held by a child. The final frames bring the players and protesters together with the messages: “We Stand for Change” and “We Stand for Equality.” By the end, the video becomes both an advertisement and a call to action—$5 from every WNBA ticket purchased this season will be donated to charities that support women.
“The first time I saw it, I watched it 30 times,” WNBA Commissioner Lisa Borders told me. “It really moved me.” On Facebook, the video has nearly half a million views and 1,500 shares. The league office hoped those numbers would translate into increased visibility for a 22-year-old league whose average attendance was below 8,000 a year ago and which pulls in somewhere around $52 million in revenue, both paltry numbers compared with its parent league ($7.4 billion). So far, league officials and WNBA observers believe it’s working. Combined viewership for the league on ESPN2 and NBATV is up 35 percent this season. Merchandise sales on the league’s website are up 50 percent over last year. And one of the league’s marquee events, last weekend’s All-Star Game, saw a bump in attendance and a nearly 20 percent ratings jump (the telecast averaged 709,000 viewers).
This metrics suggest that in a hyper partisan political environment it is no longer axiomatic that brands need to shy away from hot-button issues for fear of alienating their paying fans. Indeed, the opposite might be true: When the president, with a single tweet, can drive a wedge between the players and owners of a multibillion-dollar league like the NFL, there’s little advantage to playing it safe. The NFL’s muddled response to President Donald Trump’s continuing broadsides over the national anthem debate—defiance followed by acquiescence—has guaranteed the controversy over kneeling players will continue into a third season.
There are numerous examples of individuals in sports taking political positions the Arizona Cardinals recently a statement from owner Michael Bidwell in support of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and NBA coaches like Steve Kerr and Greg Popovich have used their platforms to assail the president’s policies. But the WNBA’s “Take a Seat, Take a Stand” campaign is not only a direct rebuke to the president’s treatment of women, but an attempt to align the interests of every one of the league’s constituent groups: players, owners and fans. It is a never-before-attempted gambit to provide a jolt of enthusiasm by grabbing hold of a lightning rod in a political thunderstorm. Among the the league is supporting this year are the United State of Women, Bright Pink and Planned Parenthood, arguably one of the most reviled groups among conservative voters.
Borders, a former Atlanta city councilwoman and Coca-Cola executive, doesn’t acknowledge that her league is making a political statement; she couches the effort as a stand for inclusion, advocacy for women and social justice. Whatever she calls it, though, she is also clear that a promotional video that implicitly rips Trump and promotes Planned Parenthood is good for the WNBA, a league that is fighting for coverage and visibility.
There’s a school of thought, she told me, that what’s good for athletes and their activist passions is not necessarily good for business best expressed by Michael Jordan’s famously apolitical admonition: “Republicans buy sneakers, too.” “What we’re seeing,” Borders said, “is that those two things aren’t in conflict they are in concert.”
The WNBA didn’t arrive without a few obsticles. A couple seasons ago, previous Trump was elected president and in Borders’ first season as commissioner, players from several teams wore black T-shirts during warmups in support of the Black Lives Matter movement after two men were killed by police officers in Minnesota and Louisiana. In response, the league levied $500 fines on the players for violating the league’s uniform policy.
But the players pushed back. After a game between the Indiana Fever and New York Liberty, players talked only about their protest and the issue of social justice, refusing to answer questions about the game. On social media, they spoke out publicly against the fines. A few days later, the league retreated, and Borders rescinded the fines.“When you have a league with so many women of color, so many of them educated and attuned to social justice issues, the league realized there was no neutral ground,” said Howard Megdal, editor in chief of highposthoops.com a site that follows the WNBA.
During Trump’s election and his urge for stoking the culture wars while using black athletes to do it only reinforced that lack of being unbiased. In 2017, WNBA players began protests that sprang up across the country in response to the Trump administration. Breanna Stewart, a star on the Seattle Storm, traveled to Los Angeles LAX Airport to protest the president’s travel ban, which targeted a group of Muslim countries. Indiana’s Briann January and Marissa Coleman attended the Women’s Marches around the country. “We’re so used to having to fight for ourselves as a league, as players and as a community that fighting isn’t uncommon for us,” Stewart told me.
That players were participating in the protests, Borders said, was an inspiration for the ad. Stewart has watched the internal divisions in the NFL, where players and owners have battled over players’ aspirations to speak out against racial equality and police brutality and protecting the league’s business interests. “As the WNBA, we need to have a unified front,” Stewart said. “Obviously there will be times where we don’t agree, but compared to the NFL the disparity between players, front offices and management it’s huge. We know change is only going to happen if we’re together.”
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