“If you don’t see a clear path for what you want, sometimes you have to make it yourself.” This quote by Mindy Kaling defines empowered women and leaders all around the world who do not wait for the right time, they make the right time now. The month of March is special, as it honors the many women who have actively worked to change the future for the better. In this day and age, some of the most powerful female leaders are athletes, who use their platforms to ignite change, demanding justice and equality for all people. Across all sports, female athletes have demonstrated that they have the skills and endurance to compete head to head not only in the arena but also in life and democracy.
The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) dedicated the 2020 season to social justice, launching a new platform, The Justice Movement, “to amplify the voices and leadership of WNBA players.” The athletes sported clothing that read “Vote” or “Say Her Name.” These simple yet powerful phrases also became impactful hashtags that helped disseminate their message across social media platforms and television networks. Society can simply “count” on these dynamic female ballers to vocalize their beliefs, sometimes without even saying anything at all.
Spearheaded by female leaders and advocates, the WNBA announced its plans to commemorate its 25th season with an impactful campaign titled “Count It.” In celebration of Women’s History Month, the league also designed a “distinguished and purposeful 25th season logo.” “Count It,” in addition to the improved logo, signifies the league’s ability to continuously break barriers and excel in the face of hardship.
This year, the WNBA will select and honor the most impactful players in the league’s history based on their overall contribution to the league and overall community. While talent and performance will play a major role in the selection process, the intangibles are just as significant—leadership, sportsmanship and community service, in addition to team success and growth of women’s basketball, are all key characteristics of distinguished female athletes and role models. The league is also looking to increase fan involvement, so WNBA fans will have the chance to vote for their favorite players who demonstrate these core qualities, on and off the hardwood.
Additionally, the WNBA’s 25 greatest moments over the years will be decided upon for players and fans to appreciate as the 2021 season draws to an end. Nike has its hand in the action, too, contributing to the celebration of growth and success by providing these powerful women with new uniforms that are not only attractive but unique in style and meaning.
While sporting unique uniforms is exciting, so too is the opportunity to ignite change and increase their fanbase. That is why basketball pioneers and legends have teamed up to establish a new advisory council that aims to propel WNBA business objectives; the council is truly an all-star team, with two-time WNBA champion and three-time MVP Lisa Leslie and four-time WNBA champion and current University of Minnesota Women’s Head Coach Linday Whalen and five-time WNBA All-Star and New Orleans Pelicans Assistant Coach Teresa Weatherspoon, just to name a few of its members.
In their 25th season, the WNBA will continue to advocate for reform through The Justice Movement, which has worked tirelessly to combat racial and gender inequality and pioneer for systematic changes that will inhibit those who have been oppressed. Lastly, the WNBA will host its first Commissioner’s Cup, which is an innovative and multi-faceted competition platform that is essentially a “competition within a competition.” While the Commissioner’s Cup intends to be an exciting addition to regular season games, it will also serve as an interactive platform for fans, players and partners in local communities to begin having difficult, yet informative, conversations on equality and social justice.
While fans anticipate the milestone events to come, it is inspiring to see female athletes utilizing their platforms to educate, motivate and influence individuals to act now. The meaning behind the logo and the campaign title is simple: “We want to count all the accomplishments of the league, from a game perspective but also in culture and society; the reason we decided to use tallies in the logo was to get across the idea of ‘Keep counting, because there is a lot more to come from the WNBA.’” These women are leaders; these women are advocates; and these women are beacons of change, hope and prosperity.