Sue Bird Is Using Her Platform To Advocate For Others
Most people know Sue Bird for her prowess on the basketball court – where she has been a champion at every level.
A skilled point guard, Bird has been one of the best players in the world for nearly two decades, since the Seattle Storm drafted her first overall in 2002.
In 2020, as social movements drive massive protests and calls to action around the nation, Bird has been thrust even further into the media spotlight and has used her growing platform to advocate for social justice.
Some might argue that Bird started to use her platform more for advocacy after she and USWNT star Megan Rapinoe made their relationship public. One of the most publicized couples in sport, Bird and Rapinoe have embraced media attention – in part to level criticism at the way sports and news media have treated women’s sport.
While recent FIFA World Cup Tournaments have been better publicized and the USWNT has captured media attention on and off the pitch, many WNBA players and commentators have noted that the same attention isn’t being given to basketball.
“And to be blunt it’s the demographic of who’s playing. Women’s soccer players generally are cute little White girls while WNBA players, we are all shapes and sizes … a lot of Black, gay, tall women … there is maybe an intimidation factor and people are quick to judge it and put it down,” Bird said in an interview with CNN Sports’ Don Riddell, echoing a sentiment many players have expressed.
Bird said in her opening monologue at the ESPYs this year that she used to shy away from speaking out because it was convenient to be safe and polite. Now, her Instagram page is flooded with images ranging from calling for the arrest of the officers who killed Breonna Taylor, to encouraging people to vote, and discussing the unfair brutality Black people in America face throughout American history.
WNBA players dedicated their 2020 season to Breonna Taylor and elevating discussions of racial injustice, and Bird has used her position as one of the most prominent WNBA players in the media to spread that message to a mainstream audience.
On July 27th, Bird co-wrote a Player’s Tribune essay with WNBA player Nneka Ogwumike where the two players noted that women athletes are suited to activism because their life is revolutionary – already existing in a space that was built for men.
“This may sound one-dimensional. But lasting change comes down to the individual decisions we make, and the new habits we form, each day: to cheer on a WNBA team—at least virtually—with friends and family members. To support players from your alma mater or favorite university by following them to the WNBA after they go pro. To celebrate America’s return to sports by taking part in our historic 2020 season for social justice,” they wrote. “That’s a lot more than fandom. It’s feminism in action.”
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