Kelly Loeffler Wanted Politics Out Of Sports. The W.N.B.A. Took Her Out Of Politics.
“We realized ‘Alright, we want to support this guy,’” Williams says. “He’s been out protesting, he’s done the work, he supports a lot of the things that we support—criminal justice reform, women’s rights, reproductive rights.” They were all in. All they needed was to decide how to make their endorsement known.
On August 4, Atlanta Dream players walked on to the court, on live television, wearing “VOTE WARNOCK” T-shirts. So did several of their opponents on the Phoenix Mercury. So did athletes across the W.N.B.A., who blasted photos of themselves in the stark political shirts across social media. In the immediate aftermath of the game, the Post noted, Warnock’s campaign raised $183,000 and gained 3,500 new grassroots donors. Soon, Warnock was beating Loeffler in the polls.
The T-shirt gambit paid off, but the Dream didn’t stop there. They kept following the news, following up with Warnock’s team, organizing to support the campaign. W.N.B.A. players brought him up during interviews, and starred in a moving Warnock ad. They were highly motivated. “We felt like we could be Breonna Taylor,” says Williams. “That could be our sister, or George Floyd could be a family member.”
On Tuesday morning, the day of the runoff election, Warnock posted a final ad—it showed how Warnock’s campaign had built enthusiasm starting with Warnock himself, and bolstered by endorsements from former president Barack Obama and president elect Joe Biden. The ad framed the story exactly as it happened—crediting the Dream as Warnock’s first major supporters. Hours later, Warnock was declared the winner, by a margin of voer 40,000 votes. Loeffler was defeated.
“Woke up and just smiled remembering that one time Kelly Loeffler tried to come for the W and we helped Reverend Warnock take her senate seat,” Layshia Clarendon, a player for New York Liberty, tweeted the morning after Warnock’s victory. “Winning never felt so damn good.”
The Dream hasn’t celebrated yet. They will, but they also feel their work isn’t done. To Williams, it feels like, “Alright, we’ve helped to flip the Senate, now we need to see some changes.” She’s hoping for a meaningful stimulus package to provide financial relief and incentivize people to stay home during the pandemic, as well as criminal justice reform.
“I think activism will look more like, How are we gonna find ways to keep our politicians accountable for all the changes we need to see?” she says. In the meantime, LeBron James has tweeted that he’s looking into forming an ownership group for the Dream. Soon, the Dream may be in better hands. Thanks to them, Georgia will be too.
Jenny Singer is a staff-writer for Glamour. You can follow her on Twitter.