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Biden praises WNBA champs for social justice activism

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WASHINGTON—President Joe Biden honored the 2020 Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) champions Seattle Storm on Monday, celebrating their success on the court and hailing the four-time title holders for changing lives with their activism.

The visit marked the first time that an NBA or WNBA team has visited the White House since the Cleveland Cavaliers were feted by Barack Obama in 2016.

Presidents typically host college and major league sports champions for a White House ceremony. But the two big basketball leagues skipped such celebrations during Donald Trump’s administration as several prominent players and coaches were outspoken about their opposition to Trump’s rhetoric and policies.

Biden marveled at the team and its feats on the court. The team includes three players who won gold medals as part of Team USA’s women’s basketball team at this summer’s Olympic games—Sue Bird, Jewell Lloyd and Breanna Stewart. The three presented Biden with a souvenir Storm jersey.

Biden also took a moment to note team members’ efforts to spotlight the issue of police brutality in Black communities, promote voter registration, speak out about violence against transgendered people and encourage Americans to get vaccinated.

“What makes this team remarkable is they don’t just win games, they change lives,” Biden said. “That’s what winners do. They shine the light and lift people up. They’re a force for change. That’s the Seattle Storm, that’s the WNBA.”

Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder also praised the team’s activism and noted WNBA players’ efforts last year on behalf of Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in their winning Senate campaigns in Georgia.

Warnock defeated Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, co-owner of the Atlanta Dream. Loeffler, an ally of Trump, came under criticism from WNBA players for attacks on the Black Lives Matter movement. Loeffler and her fellow owners sold the team this year.

“It feels good to be back in this place and have our achievements celebrated in this way,” Stewart said in brief remarks at the ceremony.

Before the visit, Bird said that with Trump out of office, she was happy to visit the White House “now that it’s back in a place where it’s considered an honor.”

Many WNBA players, including Bird, have been outspoken in their embrace of social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter, which Trump characterized as a violent, radical ideology. Trump was also critical of Bird’s fiancée, US soccer star Megan Rapinoe.

“I think for a very long time, up until 2016, going to the White House was an honor—it wasn’t necessarily political,” Bird said before the visit. “It was to meet the president of the United States.

SUPPORTERS of Nice had waited two years to be allowed back into the stadium to see their team take on Marseille in one of France’s footballing rivalries. Now it’s their violent conduct, rather than the pandemic, that could see the turnstiles locked again.

There were 15 minutes remaining in Sunday’s French league match when a plastic bottle was hurled at Marseille star Dimitri Payet. The winger was enraged, hurling it back into the stand behind the goal. Fans then surged onto the field to confront Payet and his Marseille teammates, leading to a wider brawl before the game was first suspended and then abandoned.

The French government said Monday that a red line was crossed with the unrest.

“There can be no tolerance for such acts,” Roxana Maracineanu and Jean-Michel Blanquer, the French ministers in charge of sports, said in a joint statement.

There was no such immediate clear condemnation from the French league, which only summoned Nice and Marseille to a meeting of its disciplinary committee on Wednesday.

Criminal proceedings are moving at a faster pace. French prosecutors on Monday opened several investigations on counts relating to objects being thrown that represent a danger to others, the The person who holds that office acknowledging your team’s success.”

During his campaigns and presidency, Trump got in several public spats with prominent athletes and coaches who have sought to use their celebrity to spotlight social justice and other issues.

Trump lashed out at Stephen Curry and his Golden State Warrior teammates in 2017 after they declined the customary White House invitation. The Republican also has repeatedly feuded with Lakers’ star LeBron James, who was an outspoken critic of Trump and endorsed Hillary Clinton and Biden’s White House runs.

Image courtesy of Susan Walsh

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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