WNBA Becomes 1st Pro League to Celebrate LGBT Community
The WNBA has established itself as the first professional sports league to initiate an integrated marketing program that caters to the LGBT community. Below is the full press release from WNBA.com
NEW YORK, (May 21, 2014) – The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) tipped off WNBA Pride presented by COVERGIRL, a new national platform celebrating inclusion and equality, while combating anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) bias, it was announced today by WNBA President Laurel J. Richie.
“The WNBA welcomes all fans, athletes, and partners to our game,” said Richie. “These beliefs unite the 12 teams of the WNBA and we are very excited to introduce the WNBA Prideplatform which celebrates acceptance and inclusion. The WNBA takes great pride in working with extraordinary partners who share these values, and we are so grateful to our presenting partner COVERGIRL along with ESPN, GLSEN and GLAAD for joining the WNBA on this important initiative.”
The WNBA will be the first professional sports league to establish an integrated marketing, media, grassroots and social responsibility program for the LGBT community including a new special site, WNBA.com/pride where league and team Pride content, events and schedules will be posted throughout the season. Information will also be shared on the league’s social media channels where the content will be aggregated with the hashtag #wnbapride.
In addition, WNBA teams will host Pride-themed games throughout June where players will wear commemorative Pride shooting shirts. WNBA Pride T-shirts designed by adidas, the league’s official oncourt uniform and apparel provider, will be available for purchase on WNBASTORE.com and NBA Store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Proceeds will benefit GLSEN, a long-time WNBA partner.
With this initiative, the league also becomes the first to celebrate LGBT Pride on national television when the Tulsa Shock takes on the Chicago Sky on Sunday, June 22 at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN2. During the national game telecast, WNBA Pridewill have a major presence, including the new WNBA Pride logo appearing in courtside signage and in-game promotions.
“We applaud our WNBA partners for creating and launching such an important initiative. The Walt Disney Company and ESPN have a long history of encouraging a welcoming environment for diverse communities, including the LGBT community, and we are proud to showcase the WNBA Pride platform to our national audience,” said John Skipper, ESPN President, Co-Chairman of Disney Media Networks.
As presenting partner, COVERGIRL (www.covergirl.com) will activate within the Pride game aired on ESPN2, on WNBA.comand on WNBA social media. “COVERGIRL has always supported the strength and diversity of women. We believe every woman is a COVERGIRL, and that COVERGIRLs rock the world,” says Esi Eggleston Bracey, VP and General Manager, COVERGIRL. “Our recently launched #GirlsCan campaign was established to help women overcome boundaries to break barriers, including in the pursuit of a career where women are currently under-represented, like professional sports. We are proud partners of the WNBA.”
In addition, the WNBA will continue to work with a number of leading LGBT community-based organizations, including GLSEN, GLAAD, and Athlete Ally to raise awareness of inclusion through grassroots events, public service campaigns and other local activities.
“GLSEN and our chapters are proud to continue our partnership with the WNBA during LGBT Pride Month,” said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard. “The WNBA is a sports leader in creating diverse and inclusive environments for all players and fans, and the league’s commitment to supporting the LGBT community is sending a powerful message of respect to youth across the country.”
“Some of my favorite memories are courtside with my wife and kids cheering on our favorite WNBA teams. For years, the WNBA has been a leading force in building support for equality on the court and in the stands,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “The WNBA Pride platform will raise the bar in helping to end anti-LGBT bias in sports, while also celebrating the tremendous value LGBT athletes and fans bring to the game.”
Additional elements of WNBA Pride will include:
n Team participation in local LGBT Pride festivals and parades.
n The fifth annual LogoTV/AfterEllen Score Your Seats Sweepstakes, where fans will have the opportunity to win a trip to a WNBA Finals game.
n Presence at the Provincetown Memorial Day Weekend taking place May 22 – May 26 and Women of Color Weekend taking place May 29 – June 1, where the WNBA will serve as the presenting partner of both weekend celebrations.
n Advertising with lesbian-targeted outlets.
“Every day in the news we see that inclusion is the new standard for our society, and every day we see more and more people reject prejudice and anything that would divide us,” said Phoenix Mercury Center Brittney Griner. “I’m proud to be a part of the WNBA and NBA family that has chosen to embrace the LGBT community, not just for the out athletes like me, but also the allies and fans who love them.”