The WNBA Players’ Association has called on commissioner Cathy Engelbert to remove Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Georgia, as co-owner of the Atlanta Dream.
On Tuesday, Loeffler, who has owned the Dream since 2011, urged Engelbert in a letter to put an American flag on the jerseys for the league’s restart rather than the planned anti-racism messages of “Black Lives Matter” and “Say Her Name” (a reference to the recent killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville).
Loeffler wrote that promoting a “particular political agenda undermines the potential of the sport and sends a message of exclusion” and that “we need less — not more politics in sports,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Loeffer later tweeted out a link to the story and called for the WNBA to “unite around the American Flag” and not Black Lives Matter.
In response to the story, the WNBPA tweeted, “E-N-O-U-G-H! O-U-T!”
Engelbert released a statement saying that Loeffler is no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of the team, though she has not been removed as an owner.
“The WNBA is based on the principle of equal and fair treatment of all people and we, along with the teams and players, will continue to use our platforms to vigorously advocate for social justice,” the statement said. “Sen. Kelly Loeffler has not served as a Governor of the Atlanta Dream since October 2019 and is no longer involved in the day-to-day business of the team.”
Dream guard Renee Montgomery, one of the few Dream players to speak publicly about Loeffler, opted out of the 2020 season in order to focus on social justice. She tweeted Tuesday afternoon that Loeffler’s letter was an example of why she chose to sit out and called for a conversation with Loeffler.
Tuesday’s letter only intensified calls from WNBA players to remove Loeffler as the Dream’s owner.
A Republican Senator from Georgia, Loeffler recently appeared on Fox News calling armed Black protesters in Atlanta “mob rule,” despite her support of the Second Amendment. (Open carry is legal in Georgia.)
She also posted a message on Twitter in support of the anti-LGBT group Family Project Alliance of Georgia, saying that transgender athletes should not be allowed to participate in girls’ and women’s sports.
After the “mob rule” comment, former WNBA star and Olympic gold medalist Sheryl Swoopes tweeted the “WNBA MUST do better” on June 26.
Montgomery also tweeted about Loeffler’s Fox News appearance in June, saying, “The second amendment is a part of the Bill of Rights. The problem some may be having is who is bearing the arms.”
Some in the sport, including NBA Hall of Famer Alex English, compared the situation to that of Donald Sterling, who was banned for life from the NBA and forced to sell the Los Angeles Clippers after recordings of racist comments were made public.
In March, Loeffler was implicated for potential insider trading when she sold stocks in companies vulnerable to the coronavirus after several closed-door Senate briefings. The Justice Department, however, closed her case in May and cleared her of any wrongdoing.