Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Tolerance a one-way street

Of all the professional sports leagues, I would venture a guess that the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) is most blatant in conveying its "progressive" tendencies. I guess I don't have a major issue with that, except when it bleeds onto the court.

With that said, I'm still a taken aback by an account of what a former WNBA player endured from teammates when she didn't quite fit a certain mold.

Candice Wiggins called her experience playing in the WNBA "toxic," a major reason the former No. 3 draft pick says she abruptly retired at age 29 last year.

In an interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune published Monday, Wiggins called the culture in the league "very, very harmful" and said she was targeted throughout her eight-year career for being both heterosexual and popular nationally.

"I wanted to play two more seasons of WNBA, but the experience didn't lend itself to my mental state," Wiggins told the newspaper. "It was a depressing state in the WNBA. It's not watched. Our value is diminished. It can be quite hard. I didn't like the culture inside the WNBA, and without revealing too much, it was toxic for me. ... My spirit was being broken."

Wiggins said she was treated poorly by a majority of players in the league from the day she was drafted by the Minnesota Lynx in 2008 after a notable career at Stanford.

"Me being heterosexual and straight and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge," Wiggins told the Union-Tribune. "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."

In a follow-up interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune on Tuesday, Wiggins said she meant to use the 98 percent figure as an illustration rather than fact.

There is no published data on the number of gay players in the league.

I would highly doubt that 98% of WNBA players are gay. However, I would imagine that percentage is indicative of those players who believe the slightest moral objection to homosexuality is borderline criminal.

"People were deliberately trying to hurt me all of the time," Wiggins said. "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.'"

Sadly we live in a day and age where a response to even a perceived slight is met with physical assault. What's even more disturbing is that some will justify that type of response.

Thankfully, Wiggins appears to be through the worst of it.

"I want you to understand this: There are no enemies in my life," Wiggins told the newspaper on Tuesday. "Everyone is forgiven. At the end of the day, it made me stronger. If I had not had this experience, I wouldn't be as tough as I am.

"I try to be really sensitive. I'm not trying to crush anyone's dreams or aspirations, or the dreams of the WNBA. I want things to be great, but at the same time it's important for me to be honest in my reflections."

I guess I wouldn't be shocked if other WNBA players had similar experiences to Wiggins' ordeal. But given the backlash Wiggins has received on social media, etc., don't be shocked if no one chooses to come forward with their own personal story.


1 comment:

Bike Bubba said...

She's an AIDS activist, too. One would think she would have the "street cred" to deal with some of these things, but apparently not.