The WNBA has lifted the fines given to three teams and several players for wearing black warmup shirts in support of the victims of recent shootings, it announced on Saturday.
“All of us at the WNBA have the utmost respect and appreciation for our players expressing themselves on matters important to them,” league president Lisa Borders said in a statement. “While we expect players to comply with league rules and uniform guidelines, we also understand their desire to use their platform to address important social issues.”
The league also said it will be working with players over the Olympic break on finding ways to express their views to fans.
Earlier in the week, the teams—the New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury and Indiana Fever—were each fined $5,000 and the players were docked $500 each for wearing the shirts. The Liberty first wore shirts with two hashtags, “#BlackLivesMatter” and “#Dallas5,” honoring both the victims of recent shootings by police and the police officers killed in a shooting in Dallas. They later switched to a plain black shirt.
The WNBPA released the following statement:
Before the announcement came down from the league office on Saturday, Borders said that she preferred players who speak out on social issues keep it off the court.
Earlier this month, Minnesota Lynx players wore shirts that said “Black Lives Matter” and “Change starts with us, justice and accountability.” Four Minneapolis police officers left their jobs as arena security in response.
In December 2014, players from the Cleveland Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets, including LeBron James, wore black shirts with the phrase “I Can’t Breathe.” The display came after a grand jury declined to indict a New York police offer who placed a man named Eric Garner in a fatal chokehold. Garner was seen on video telling the officer “I can’t breathe.”
The NBA did not fine the players.