Message to GA Senator Kelly Loeffler From Female Sports Stars: 'Sell Team Today'
Fans of women's sports are learning female players can hit just as hard with words as they do with their athletic pursuits.
The latest target is Sen. Kelly Loeffler, the Georgia Republican who owns a stake in the WNBA's Atlanta Dream, for her comments regarding the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
On Tuesday, Loeffler told the WNBA that it "should stand for and unite around the American Flag — not divisive political movements like BLM."
U.S. Soccer icon Abby Wambach fired back in a tweet, saying, "It's way past time for ousting racist owners and coaches like Loeffler."
To @KLoeffler: sell your interest in this team today. To the sports world: it’s way past time to oust racist owners and coaches like Loeffler. https://t.co/8sYFl9ixZT— Abby Wambach (@AbbyWambach) July 8, 2020
In her post to nearly 749,000 followers, Wambach, a FIFA World Cup Champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, told Loeffler to "sell the team today."
Wambach joins a growing list of athletes —past and present —slamming Loeffler for her comments after the league announced it would dedicate the 2020 season to social justice.
The WNBA's Players Association had a blunt message to Loeffler: "E-N-O-U-G-H! O-U-T!"
Loeffler objected to the WNBA's plan that includes players wearing warm-up shirts that display "Black Lives Matter" on the front and "Say Her Name" on the back. Also, the league will prominently display "Black Lives Matter" on courts during games.
Loeffler communications director Stephen Lawson doubled-down Wednesday, sending out a statement titled: "The Radical Left Attacks Kelly Loeffler For Backing Law Enforcement, Supporting The American Flag.”
“Kelly is not backing down in this fight to remove politics from professional sports, reject the dangerous and destructive agenda of BLM, and unify around the American Flag,” Lawson said.
In her letter to WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert, Loeffler asked for all uniforms and apparel to include an American flag rather than referring to the BLM movement.
"The lives of each and every African American matter, and there's no debating the fact that there is no place for racism in our country," Loeffler wrote. "However, I adamantly oppose the Black Lives Matter political movement, which has advocated for the defunding of police, called for the removal of Jesus from churches and the disruption of the nuclear family structure, harbored anti-Semitic views, and promoted violence and destruction across the country."
Loeffler took office in January after Gov. Brian Kemp tapped her to replace Sen. Johnny Isakson, the longtime Georgia Republican who retired for health reasons.
The WNBA responded to Loeffler's letter with a statement that the organization is based on "equal and fair" treatment of all people, and will continue "to vigorously advocate for social justice."
The league further explained that Loeffler has not served in a decision-making position with the Atlanta Dream since last October and is "no longer involved in the team's day-to-day business."
New York Liberty guard Layshia Clarendon, who spent more than two seasons with the Atlanta Dream, said about Loeffler, “Happy to own us as long as we stay quiet and perform.”
WNBA player Skylar Diggins-Smith of the Phoenix Mercury tweeted, "Kelly Loeffler's gotta GO! Period!"
In response to the criticism, Loeffler said in a press release that she is co-sponsoring legislation "to restrict taxpayer funding from cities that allow jurisdictions to be ruled by anarchy while providing no basic services to their residents."
The measure is seen as a direct criticism of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who has faced harsh pushback from the GOP, including from Kemp, for her handling of demonstrations in the city. Last weekend, violence led to shootings of more than 30 people and the death of an 8-year-old, Secoriea Turner.
Protesters also damaged part of the Georgia Department of Public Safety headquarters.
Kemp responded to the recent violence by activating 1,000 National Guards troops.