The WNBA Must Dispose of Kelly Loeffler
The WNBA must dispose of Kelly Loeffler. Now.
If you’ve been hiding the past few months, Loeffler is Georgia’s soon-to-be former U.S. senator who just lost her seat in historic fashion to Rev. Raphael Warnock, making him the first Black Democrat elected to represent a Southern state and making her, by contrast, the first White person to lose such a perch to a Black man. She’s also a 49% owner of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream. Loeffler’s election loss has nothing to do with why the WNBA must purge itself of her and whatever influence she’ll have left after January 20. She’s not the first sports team owner to be a loser in politics. She’s not the only one who’ll be remembered by history as a Trump supporter or to hold political beliefs opposite most of their players.
In fact, sports ownership in America is, if anything, a case study on messy, symbiotic relationships between capital and labor. Across all major sports, most owners are White billionaires who come from privilege; most players (except in hockey) are Black and first-generation rich. Owners rely on players’ physical gifts to contribute to their fortunes, while players earn theirs, in part, due to public policies like publicly funded stadiums, tax breaks, and anti-trust exemptions that get lavished on the owners. That Loeffler’s politics align neatly with conservative fiscal policies that help line her pockets while most of her player-employees lean left amounts to a 30-degree Tuesday in January. That she aligned her reelection campaign with President Trump’s hostility toward the Black Lives Matter movement, which most of her players supported, might have even been survivable, especially had she won reelection.
What shouldn’t be tolerated, though, was her attempt to disenfranchise WNBA players and fans to keep a Senate seat that she originally didn’t even run for. Loeffler tried appealing to Trump’s most radical supporters to get reelected, which meant signing on to bald-faced lies about dead people voting, doctored voting machines, and voter fraud. These weren’t just talking points—they were malicious lies. Trump’s conspiracy theories about a stolen election were aimed directly at Black voters in Atlanta and communities like it — people who over-index among the WNBA’s labor pool and fan base. To keep her seat and political influence, Loeffler was willing to redux the worst goals of Georgia’s blood-soaked, trifling political history. When she lost, she stood by Trump as he whipped his supporters into a riot that cost four lives and interrupted the process of peacefully transferring power.
The WNBA, of course, can have anybody it wants as part of its ownership group. But it shouldn’t want Loeffler. And her more immediate concerns should be with whatever charges she might face for helping to incite an attempted insurrection. The Atlanta Dream’s players gave up on her a long time ago. It’s time for the league’s other owners to dump her too.
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