The Women's National Basketball Association is teaming up with several organizations that focus on women and girls—and it's not shying away from supporting groups that might bring some controversy.
The league, which begins its 22nd season Friday, will donate $5 for each ticket purchased for select games during the season to one of six groups as part of the "Take a Seat, Take a Stand" campaign. All 12 teams will participate, designating up to six games to the initiative.
The Indiana Fever have identified five games in which they'll participate in the promotion, starting June 5 with a game against the Dallas Wings.
The six organizations are Bright Pink, GLSEN, It's On Us, Mentor, Planned Parenthood and the United State of Women.
Bright Pink focuses on prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer. GLSEN is a national network that promotes safe schools for LGBTQ students. It’s On Us is a movement aimed at stopping sexual assault. Mentor is a national group that promotes mentoring for young people. Planned Parenthood is the nation's largest single provider of reproductive health services and abortions. And the United State of Women is a women's empowerment and political movement started by the Obama administration in 2016.
"For 22 years, the WNBA and its players—women playing at the highest level of their sport—have stood up as role models for millions of women and girls," WNBA President Lisa Borders said. "With 'Take a Seat, Take a Stand,' we are proud to come together as a league to stand with our partner organizations, our fans and the many inspiring women raising their voices for change in the current women's movement."
In addition to these organizations, fans will have the choice to support local groups in all 12 teams' communities.
"As WNBA players we like to take advantage of our platform and opportunities to connect and empower other women, whatever you're passionate about, our league backs you up," Maya Moore said. "It's exciting to know we come to work not just to do the sport we love, but help other women with what they want to do and be great at."
The WNBA will also donate tickets to send a young woman or girl to a game.
Borders said she thinks this initiative will speak directly to young women. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said last month on ESPN he didn't think the WNBA was connecting well enough with young women and girls.
"It's a call to action for women, not to just support the W but also when you support the W you're supporting not just basketball alone, but you're supporting women," Borders said. "We think this will really appeal to these younger women. They are interested in things bigger than themselves. We think it will speak to everyone, but specifically to that demographic. They will raise their hand and say 'I want to be a part of it.'"
This new initiative was planned before Silver's comments. The WNBA has also hired a company to do a yearlong review of the league and come up with a strategic plan.
"We thought this would be a great time to look at the league top to bottom, left to right and evaluate everything," Borders said. "What's working and what's not working. Some of the comments Adam made upset some people. We're going to review everything.
"We know what we stand for and now we're going to talk about, how do we bring that to life the next 40 years? This is a commitment from the NBA and WNBA to carry the torch forward. The players are excited about it. It's a long-term piece."