Tracker Pixel for Entry

Bullying in the Women’s National Basketball Association

by Tom Bixby | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Editorial | March 22nd, 2017

In the WNBA, was there ever a team like the 2011 Minnesota Lynx? People argue about it, but we say they’re the best.

Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen, Rebekkah Bronson, Maya Moore, Taj McWilliams-Franklin.

The Lynx drew first in the draft and chose Maya Moore, dominant for four years in the UConn basketball factory. They traded for WNBA All Star Lindsay Whalen, a hometown girl who would pull in bigger crowds. They had the elusive, unguardable Seimone Augustus, the all-star shooting guard coming off a year of injuries, with something to prove. Rebekkah Bronson, the best rebounder in the Western Conference, was the quiet one, the glue that held the team together.

And then, maybe most importantly, 40-year-old Taj McWilliams-Franklin, a player of unrivaled experience with a photographic memory.

“Lynx Assistant CoachJim Petersen credited McWilliams-Franklin with having an outsized impact on the team both on and off the court, saying, ‘You can talk all you want about the things she has done on the floor, but it is in the locker room, in the scouting reports, in the film sessions and just even around the airport -- she's somebody to talk to that has been there and done that. She has seen it all.’

“Teammate Candice Wiggins agreed, noting that the team had nicknamed her ‘Mama Taj,’ and that ‘she is like a coach, a big sister for us, off the court and on. She has taken us all in. We are like her little chickies and she is the mother hen.’”

Wiggins was the Sixth Woman, the first to come off the bench when needed. In her rookie year, 2008, she’d won the Sixth Woman of the Year award.

Nine years later, in a February 2017 interview with Tod Leonard of The San Diego Union-Tribune, Candice Wiggins revealed what led her to retire from basketball at the age of 29, in 2016, after eight seasons.

Calling the league's culture "very, very harmful" and "toxic to me,” she alleged that she had been bullied on the court throughout her WNBA career for being heterosexual and nationally popular.

“Me being heterosexual and straight, and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge. I would say 98 percent of the women in the WNBA are gay women. It was a conformist type of place. There was a whole different set of rules they (the other players) could apply.”

There are ten teams in the WNBA, with 12 players each, 120 players in a given year. 12 of them, current and former players, have come out publicly.

“People were deliberately trying to hurt me all of the time,” said Wiggins. “I had never been called the B-word so many times in my life than I was in my rookie season. I’d never been thrown to the ground so much. The message was: ‘We want you to know we don’t like you.’“

Wiggins did have her share of injuries. Eight of them required surgery. In 2010 she ruptured her achilles tendon, lost almost the whole season, and was never a Lynx starter again. Some of her injuries were from getting hit hard, the lower back ones, for instance. Others were probably because she played year-round, off-season in Europe, and wore herself out. Did deliberate fouls shorten her career? We can’t say.

The WNBA is intensely physical. The game within the game, fouling and drawing fouls, is a demolition derby. Skinny draft picks are told to pump iron, eat protein, bulk up. The average WNBA player has prominent shoulders, looks ripped. There are a few exceptions: forward DeWanna Bonner of the Phoenix Mercury, eight seasons and two championships, is 6 foot 4 and weighs 137.

Candice Wiggins is 5-11, weighs about 150, the same as when she was drafted. She wasn’t one of the bigger players.

“Wiggins's remarks led to a major backlash from many WNBA players and other sports figures, but she largely stood by them. She did clarify her ‘98 percent’ remark, saying: ‘It was my way to illustrate the isolation that I felt personally. I felt like the 2 percent versus the 98 percent.’"

“Next time,” wrote Imani Boyette of the Chicago Sky, “I hope you ask your journalist to interview someone else who was there with you. I ask that you use real statistics. I ask that you not try to out other women.

“I ask that you try not to defame a league that gave you your platform, whether you like it or not. I ask that you remember your sisters, your fellow WNBA stars, the young girls coming up after you.”

We can’t say anything about the truth of Wiggins’s comments. We just don’t know. But we hope, with Imani Boyette, that she doesn’t out anybody.

We admit that we have a lot of sympathy for people in the closet. At work, it’s still often true that someone who is different is classified, dumped into a category-box and saddled with a reputation that can complicate careers and ambitions.

Your orientation and gender identity are your own personal business and nobody else’s, unless you want them to be.

We know that the more people who out themselves, the more workplace acceptance there is and the better it is for everybody.

Out themselves, we said, not were outed by a competitor.

Candice, you said there is a deep state of lesbians in the WNBA, who frustrate the application of the rules and make some of their own; that they hated you and injured you intentionally.

You say you’re going to write about it -- and to back up your statements, you have to. This had better be good. 

RECENTLY IN

Editorial

Tracker Pixel for Entry Aaland Law Firm

Recently in:

FARGO – Two of the three Somali-American women threatened with murder two days ago by a white woman outside a local Walmart, met their attacker Thursday afternoon at the Fargo Police Department, and left in friendship.“We…

Culture

​The Dark Net

by Chuck Solly

Did you know that there is a backside to the Internet? I guess we all have backsides, don’t we? The backside of the Internet has many functions, none of which you can access from Google. Dark Net sites are just like normal web…

Thursday July 27, 5pmDowntown CasseltonTake a day trip and cruise down to Casselton. Free car show, 50/50 raffle, cash, prizes, fun galore and just maybe an engine blow up. Hot rods on hot sod? Count us in. Hosted by the Swanks,…

Editorial

Who asked you?

by Sabrina Hornung

Our opinion: You cannot fool all the people all the time, unless they are from North Dakota.This week Gallup poll reported that at 59% North Dakota has the second largest Trump approval rating in the nation, nipping at West…

A reasonable conclusion: “We should have killed our baby.”For some unfathomable reason, some people think they are immortal, that death is not a part of life. Our culture tends to teach us to avoid the topic of death as if it…

The moment of truth has arrived. After seven weeks of sampling and judging some of the finest libations in the area the results for this year’s Cocktail Showdown have arrived. Christopher Larson, Raul Gomez and Sabrina Hornung…

On a sultry Thursday night, I sauntered into Luna. Situated on South University next to Bernie’s Beer and Wine, it isn’t exactly a hole in the wall, but it is certainly off the beaten path, and as described by their motto it is…

Most of us only hear about world records secondhand. Many might think they’re not up to the challenge, others might not see the point of breaking one, and others just read about them in books and think of them as an exotic…

Luc Besson’s “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” -- touted as the costliest independent motion picture ever made -- simultaneously melts eyeballs with its gorgeous visuals and narcotizes brains with its stiff…

Within the borders of North Dakota lie many worlds that are each expressing themselves in traditional art and culture. During his time as the state folklorist, Troyd Geist has been documenting a diverse array of cultural identities…

Summer Arts Intensive performs main stage musicalUnder the summer sun, something’s begun, taking over those summer nights. The 1978 movie and musical hit Grease is taking stage as part of the Summer Arts Intensive in West Fargo.…

Humor

​Talking to strangers

by Sabrina Hornung

“I don’t have a tour, like, on the back of a sweatshirt,” comedian Paula Poundstone says. “I go out every weekend. This weekend I went out Friday, Saturday and Monday. Mostly it’s Friday/Saturday or Thursday through…

Minnesota is certainly well known for being a hotspot for craft brewing. While most of the action has been centered around the Minneapolis metro area, yet another brewer from the Northern part of the state has decided to bring its…

Essential oils. They are all the buzz lately. It seems everyone has heard of them or is purchasing them. Some people know how to use them; others are just interested in the wonder of their complex scents.Essential oils are as…

Live and Learn

​The other shoe

by HPR Contributor

By Elizabeth Nawrotnawrot@mnstate.eduI look up from my hotel lobby breakfast astonished to see a framed print of Wassily Kandinsky's "Mit und Gegen,” a masterpiece of color and composition that just happens to be my favorite…

“…the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” – Milan Kundera“It may seem kind of bleak to say that the future of our planet rests in large part on the consciences of Republican…