Sports, including women’s sports and the WNBA, are political. Bearing multiple, intersecting identities, women enter the male-dominated space of sports and prove their capacity and autonomy in ways that often counter traditional expectations of women. Now, a decision on Wednesday by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp thrusts the WNBA into conventional politics. Starting January 1, Kelly Loeffler, co-owner of the Atlanta Dream and CEO of Bakkt, will serve as one of Georgia’s senators, replacing Johnny Isakson, who is stepping down due to health concerns.
Kemp, a Republican, nominated the conservative Loeffler, who announced:
I’m a lifelong conservative, pro-Second Amendment, pro-military, pro-wall and pro-Trump. And I make no apologies for my conservative values and will proudly support President Trump’s conservative judges.
If Loeffler wins a special election in 2020, she would become to first woman from the state of Georgia to be elected to the Senate.
I know I will have to earn the support of hardworking Georgians with my votes, priorities, and actions. I can promise you this: no one will fight harder for our state, our president, and our conservative values. I will not tire. I will never back down. #gapol pic.twitter.com/vAE6HaKuuN— Kelly Loeffler (@kloeffler) December 4, 2019
Yet, despite her assertions of conservatism, Loeffler’s nomination has sparked yet another squabble within the Republican Party. Due to her past donations to Mitt Romney, as well as the fact that Stacy Abrams, 2018 Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate, did legal work for the Dream, Trump and his supporters have ardently opposed Loeffler’s appointment.
It is unclear how or if Loeffler’s new responsibility will impact her involvement with the Dream. However, it does seem that Loeffler’s WNBA experience has influenced her political perspectives. WNBA players have prominently advocated such issues as equal pay for all women, stricter gun laws, an end to police brutality against persons of color, protections for LGBTQ+ persons, resources and respect for persons with disabilities and aid for the Bahamas — all of which have been ignored, dismissed or made worse by President Trump and the Republican Party.