WNBA Leading the Charge for Cultural Change and ActivismAugust 13, 2020
As the pandemic continues to impact our current livelihoods, activism has competed during these challenging times. The world has been in non-stop chaos as a result of COVID-19 implications and recent social justice marches in light of the late George Floyd. The death of Floyd unleashed a wave of protests across the country. The incident highlighted past and present victims of systemic oppression. In the same light, the rage over the police raid that resulted in the death of Breonna Taylor, an African American emergency medical technician in Louisville, KY, also drove demonstrations beyond the Kentucky state lines.
The WNBA has dedicated this 2020 season to the social justice movement: Black Lives Matter, a movement against police brutality and all racially motivated violence against Black and Brown people. The league takes a stand for women and girls like Breonna Taylor and Sandra Bland. The trends #SayHerName and #MakeWayMakeChange amplify the voices that are now silent. In addition, brand affinity is essential in that the WNBA has been social justice advocates for quite some time now as well as fans and consumers are keeping a close eye on who makes social stances and who is worth canceling.
Round of Applause
The data report presented the launch of the WNBA season, which generated over 564,000 impressions and 64,354 engagements across all social platforms. For team performances, the Las Vegas Aces, Los Angeles Sparks, and Seattle Storm held the top three engagement rates during the first week of play on all platforms (Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook). In addition, shoutout to the New York Liberty who performed above standards with a 10.66% engagement rate bringing in a social value of $120,954 on Instagram alone. Rounding out the top five Instagram engagements are the Seattle Storm, Dallas Wings, Minnesota Lynx, and Los Angeles Sparks.
During these uncertain times, we as fans are starting to lose momentum. Our attention spans have diminished from what is important. We tend to lose sight of big events after it’s been trending for quite some time. This is more than a moment for the WNBA.
Of course, the WNBA players dedicate themselves to the game of basketball. Moreover, they use their platform to express the need for change as they are a prime example of why change needs to take place. These women work harder than anyone else. It is no secret that they do not solely rely on their WNBA compensations alone to support themselves. These women work year-round. Once the WNBA season ends, many of the WNBA athletes travel overseas to prepare for their international debuts in other countries. Some players make more money abroad than they do here, in the US. Before the recent pay increase, WNBA players barely made more than $100,000, which is extremely low for NBA player six-figure contracts.
In this male dominated industry, it is not fair that women in any role work so hard to gain so little. If that isn’t enough, women of color are more likely to experience pay discrepancies in the workplace. The WNBA continuously fights for the right to be noticed on the scale in comparison to others. According to Candace Parker on the Just Women’s Sports podcast, “we’re the majority of the minority—the league is 80 percent African American and 100 percent women from different socio-economic and sexual-orientation backgrounds,” hence, the representation of activism. As a fan of the WNBA, it is refreshing to see the league embraces the opportunity to leverage their platform to grow awareness on these important social causes.
In all facets, the WNBA speaks equality into existence by being an example for young girls to look up to. Representation is important after all we are the United States of America–a melting pot of many diverse cultures seeking success in one way or another.
In honor of the new season, the WNBA started the #OrangeHoodie digital activation campaign. This campaign is a symbol and a show of support for world-class and resilient female athletes. This initiative is an example that defines what the WNBA stands for. This movement gained $510,152 and counting in social value over the opening week. The WNBA orange hoodie was also reportedly the top-selling item on Fanatics.com. The signature hoodie was featured in many selfies and candid shots shared across social platforms from No. 1 ranked WTA player, Naomi Osaka to NBA player, Lebron James to music artist, Lil Wayne and more. Many athletes and celebrities took part in the #OrangeHoodie campaign. Those who participated demonstrated their support for the WNBA and all female athletes.
The #OrangeHoodie project speaks volumes to women in the sports industry. We are in a digital era where young girls are very impressionable. This digital campaign engaged with young fans and women from all over. Uplifting women will inspire others to make a change and this campaign did just that.
The WNBA spotlights brands that stand in solidarity with the values of the movement. Organizations like the NBA and ESPN align themselves with the WNBA by reposting content, which adds a new avenue of viewership. Brand affinity is influential. Sports fans from all over have the opportunity to join the movement that has been established and promoted through various channels that initiate change. With the support and recognition of sports industry leaders as well as men and women from other industries, the WNBA will continue to make strides to implement change.
In short, the WNBA is at the forefront of so many important conversations that are necessary for change in the world. The league that leads in activism and social responsibility by uplifting those voices who may not otherwise be heard. Today, two things are certain, the WNBA continues to fight this season through action, and two, expect to see a lot more orange hoodies across social media newsfeeds.