2020 WNBA Champions: The Seattle Storm, Athletes Promoting Voting, Kim Ng is the First Female GM in the MLB & What Athletes Learned From Their Pandemic Pauses
The Seattle Storm are the 2020 WNBA Champions – A Record Tying Fourth Title
By Zac Cornell
The Seattle Storm are the WNBA Champions of 2020, easily beating out the Las Vegas Aces in three games. This is the team’s fourth time winning the title, now tied for the most championships in the WNBA with the Minnesota Lynx and former Houston Comets. The Storm’s extraordinary forward Breanna Stewart was named Finals MVP for the second time in the past three seasons. She was out in 2019 due to an Achilles injury.
Although this is the team’s second win in three years, this year’s win is different for a number of reasons and likely more meaningful. The WNBA dedicated this season to Breonna Taylor, the EMT who was killed by police officers while she was sleeping in her home in Louisville, Kentucky, and the Say Her Name Campaign which fights for justice for Black women.
On top of this emotional backdrop, this season was further complicated by Covid-19, requiring the players and coaches to live in a bubble in Bradenton, Florida without seeing any friends or family members from July until October. In fact, Storm coach Gary Kloppenburg had to make a huge personal sacrifice and miss his daughter’s wedding, as head coach Dan Hughes, a recovering cancer survivor, could not take the risk and live in the bubble. Luckily for Kloppenburg, his family plans to recreate the ceremony for his benefit when he returns.
Storm guard Jewell Loyd, upon winning her second championship, dedicated the title to Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna. Kobe had been a mentor and idol to Loyd, coaching her and nicknaming her “Gold Mamba.” In an after-game interview, Loyd said, “This year has been a lot for me.” She continued, “This is for Kobe, Gigi, the Bryant family, and for Breonna Taylor. We had a lot of emotions coming into this game.”
An Unprecedented Amount of Athletes Promoted Voting This Year – It Made an Impact
By Zac Cornell
The 2020 election was unprecedented in many ways, but one aspect was the huge participation of the sports world motivating people to register to vote and perform their civic duty. Of course the WNBA and the NBA developed their seasons in the bubble to promote social change, with their courts and uniforms promoting Black Lives Matter and other social movements throughout the season. In addition, the non-partisan coalition Rally the Vote featured over 40 professional sports franchises to encourage fans to register and vote in the election. Teams from the WNBA, NWSL, NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, and MLS all participated in the endeavor.
Individual prominent athletes such as soccer superstar Megan Rapinoe, tennis legend Billie Jean King, basketball leaders Elena Delle Donne, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Stephen Curry also used their platforms and influence to get out the vote. Based on the historic turnout for the election, it is clear that these efforts made an impact. The 2020 election had the highest voter turnout ever with two-thirds of the eligible voting population participating in the election – a percentage that hasn’t been seen since the 1900s.
It’s not a secret that many athletes were not a fan of President Trump. In the past four years, many championship teams had declined the customary visit to the White House including the U.S. Women’s Soccer team after their World Cup championship.
President-elect Joe Biden showed himself to be a friend of many athletes, notably to the U.S. Women’s Soccer players who have been suing U.S. Soccer for equal pay. He actually had tweeted on May 2nd after a judge shot down the USWNT lawsuit:
Unsurprisingly making the rounds again, wonder why. https://t.co/b0z5VpR1Kp
— Meg Linehan (@itsmeglinehan) November 8, 2020
So, it was not a surprise to see many athletes celebrating the Biden/Harris win on social media. You can see Bleacher Report’s compilation of some athlete’s Twitter reactions here:
It will be interesting to see how these athletes and sports organizations continue to engage in politics and civic engagement going forward.
First Female GM in the MLB Breaks Barriers
By Maddy Leslie and Payton Caggiano
Kim Ng was born in Indianapolis, Indiana but later moved to New York where she attended elementary, middle, and highschool school. Her interest in baseball began when she would play stickball in Queens and be taught about sports by her father. She later attended the University of Chicago where she studied public policy and played softball for 4 years. She was named the MVP infielder on the team.
She started in the baseball organization 30 years ago as an intern for the Chicago White Sox because she wanted to get a career in a sport dominated by men. She continued getting more important jobs on many teams like the Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers. On Friday November 13th, she became the first woman hired to run a major league team’s baseball organization. She was named the general manager for the Miami Marlins. She considered a woman getting this job long overdue. Dan Evans hired Ms. Ng in 1990 as an intern for the Chicago White Sox. After finding out about Ng’s job with the Marlins, he proudly says, “I felt from 15 years ago that she was always the best candidate for the job, and for whatever reason, people weren’t prepared to make that move.” Evans explains how this is not just a baseball move, it is a generational move and Kim Ng will be looked up to by young women throughout the world. However, the baseball organization still has a long way to go in order to diversify their program because out of the 500 jobs in over 30 teams, only 95 women hold those jobs.
What Famous Athletes Learned From Their Pandemic Pauses
By Kiki Montgomery
The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating the world for months. As cases spread across the globe and through the community of professional athletes, leagues shut down completely. The virus even led to the postponement of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, delaying culminating events until 2021. Sports have taken a back seat and the virus has changed many athletes’ lives which are normally created around the parameters of the competitive calendar full of practices and events. The gymnast Sunisa Lee and the paralympic swimmer Rudy Garcia-Tolson have shared their struggles with adapting to the new normal presented by the coronavirus.
With the olympics in her future, Sunisa Lee, 17, had been spending most of her time prepping for the 2020 olympic games. Not only did the pandemic postpone her olympic aspirations, but also trajectory took away her aunt and uncle,who died of COVID-19, just 13 days apart. In an Interview with the new york times, Lee said this about her journey, “What’s helped me get through this year is remembering that it’s been a weird time for everybody. Now I think pretty much everybody on the national team is back training like usual. I’ve been able to do all my skills, but getting through my routines is hard because I need more endurance after taking so much time off”
Rudy Garcia-Tolson, 32, had thought to retire from competition after winning a medal five times in previous Paralympics. But this pandemic has inspired him to attempt to swim in other paralympic games and Tolson went on a cross country search to find safe places to train.