Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, June 10, 2020
Everybody's tired — More from Tierra Ruffin-Pratt — Must-click women's basketball links
(Hi! Howard Megdal here. The IX helps build the necessary infrastructure for women’s sports media. In this moment, freelance budgets have been cut, reporters are losing their jobs. Women’s sports always bears the brunt of that first.
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The season hasn’t begun yet — there is not, as of yet, an agreement in place to play a WNBA season — and everyone is exhausted.
Exhausted by leading the country’s efforts to move toward a larger racial justice. Exhausted by a global pandemic that has killed more than 112,000 people and, yes, is on the rise in states across the country, including the proposed site for the WNBA season (NBA and MLS, too), Florida.
Accordingly, the excellent reporting from Ari Chambers and Bela Kirpalani at The Next Tuesday night should be read with that in mind — but to know this as well.
The league didn’t put forward a massive increase in investment to see it all fall apart before the new CBA even begins. The players are eager — for reasons of both competition and financial reward in a summer that doesn’t hold the automatic promise of an overseas offseason to follow — to return to the court. The WNBPA held together, admirably, in the last CBA negotiations, and continues to have productive conversations with the league.
No one thinks this will fall short of the goal, though several league sources did express surprise that the WNBA’s initial offer was so low — 60 percent of salaries, compared to, for instance, the National Women’s Soccer League coming through at 100% of salaries for their upcoming shortened season in Utah.
An entire league that believed it was on the cusp of a new paradigm, instead, is holding its collective breath that economics and health and who knows what else in this absurd 2020 reality will allow them the chance to earn a living playing basketball at all, in a country where the question of the moment is, for Black women, whether this country is ready to value their lives the same as it does white people, at long last.
It’s tiring. For everyone involved. Tempers are shorter. Patience is more limited. For a July 24 start date to work, time is running short.
But this is the WNBA, where league officials do 11 different jobs at once, where players have come from overseas and launched right into a WNBA season, and then back again, after playing back-to-backs and flying commercial.
No one I spoke to thinks the WNBA and the players won’t find a way to get this done. No one.
Don’t count on anything for sure, here in 2020. But don’t bet against these sides coming together, either.
This week in women’s basketball
Mitch Northam has his usual assortment of must-read ACC notes.
Thuc Nhi Nguyen wrote about Tierra Ruffin-Pratt.
This college basketball player wants to go into law enforcement. It’s been a complicated time for her.
James Wade has questions about the league’s ability to keep players and coaches safe.
Madeline Kenney caught up with Sky players about Black Lives Matter.
Craig Way spoke with Charli Collier, a huge part of Texas’ future.
Nice job by Sara Stanley here to put all of Breanna Stewart’s legacy in one place.
Ben Dull broke down what Leaonna Odom brings to the Liberty.
Lindsay Gibbs explains why the WNBA players are dissatisfied with the league’s response on George Floyd.
Mick McCabe has been covering Suzy Merchant for a long time.
‘I’m full-go now:’ After sitting out last season with an injury, UConn alum Moriah Jefferson is eager to return to lead young Dallas Wings squad, Alexa Philippou writes.
Natasha Cloud signed with Converse.
She also spoke with Fred Katz about what it means to be black in America today.
And with LaChina Robinson, Terrika Foster-Brasby on Around The Rim.
Sylvia Fowles’ unwillingness to follow normal aging patterns makes it hard to project her final place in the WNBA record books. But I tried anyway.
Jenn Hatfield caught up with the Mystics broadcasters.
Cassandra Negley examined how the Dream and Liberty are getting ready in this odd time.
And Jacob Mox provided useful explainer on the rookie scale.
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Five at The IX: Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, Part II
More from Ruffin-Pratt in her recent media avail
John W Davis: Are there any changes that you can stand by or believe in?
Tierra Ruffin-Pratt: Right now, it’s just getting justice for what’s going on now. But like I said, we’re fighting racism in America, we’re fighting the justice system, we’re fighting a lot of things right now. To pinpoint one would be difficult for me, because it’s all relevant. We have this racial injustice going on, we have COVID-19 going on, so it’s a lot of things going on in the world. Whatever you decide to fight for, whatever you decide to stand for, just make sure you continually do it. Don’t just let it be because it’s popular and it’s the hip thing right now to do it. And than a week, two weeks, a month when everything dies down, you forget until something else happens in the world, something else happens in this country. It has to be a constant and continual conversation that’s happening between everybody in this country. Blacks, whites, doesn’t matter what race you are, what ethnicity you are, what orientation you are, just has to be a constant conversation that’s being had because it’s a constant and continual cycle that’s happening in America where a black person is killed, whether it’s by a white person or cop it doesn’t really matter. But after a couple of days, couple of weeks, it kind of veers off and dies down, and then what? Everybody’s quiet until the next thing happens.
Amanda Scurlock, LA Sentinel: This time around, there’s been a lot of athletes speaking out, from different leagues. How does that make you feel? Does that make you feel we’re progressing more and getting more vocal? Does that give you a sense of optimism about the end to police brutality?
Tierra Ruffin-Pratt: People speaking out is going to be big in any fashion, just hearing the voices of people that have the platform to speak. Before, people didn’t speak out, but now we see a lot of athletes, we see actors and actresses, businesspeople even speaking out. Even colleges and universities have put out statements, saying they stand with us. Even if it’s just a blanket, generic statement, at least they’re somewhat speaking out. I think it’s a step in the right direction, but it’s going to take a lot more than that to end something that’s going on in the world. Not just police brutality, but racism, and everything that comes with it. But it’s a start, if everybody speaks up and talks amongst themselves in their own groups, families, business, if the word is traveling that’s important, it’s going to help.
Howard Megdal, The Next: How do you see the way the coverage has been in the most recent flashpoints, and whether you think there’s been an improvement if there’s ways in which the media needs to do that?
Tierra Ruffin-Pratt: Coverage in itself is helping, but I think it’s always one sided in a sense, especially when it comes to the rioting and protesting and all of that. They always show the negative, but never really show the peaceful side of things. They only start showing a lot of stuff when it becomes negative, and make it seem like it’s always the black people that’s doing it. But I think some type of media coverage is better than none. So that’s a start. And like I said before with John, it just has to be continuous care, and when the protesting stops, it has to be a continual conversation. Athletes speaking out when they’re doing media and press, anything, but the conversation has to keep going. But any type of coverage is helping, in a sense, but the negative side is what kills for the blacks in these situations because it looks like they’re doing the wrong thing and people judge them for going out and protesting and in the riots and all of that but this has been happening for years, and generations, way before us. And sometimes that’s what it takes to get some type of change and for voices to be heard. So that’s what it takes. I’m not in agreement with the looting and burning stuff down but that’s what some people feel they have to do to be heard, and you can’t tell somebody in pain how they can express it.
Jonathan McCoy, HNB Media: Are there any laws and policies that you have in your mind that you think would be great to implement to maybe stop some of these situations from happening?
Tierra Ruffin-Pratt: I don’t think it’s a law or anything of that nature that can change, racism, or police brutality. That’s a personal thing. That’s something you got to change within you so, I don’t know what laws can be changed to stop that.