Russia’s wrongful detention of Britney Greiner calls for more outrage

Where do male athletes stand in front of WNBA star Britney Grenier? The Phoenix Mercury Center has been held in a Russian prison since February Russian officials say they were caught with e-cigarette cartridges containing cannabis-derived oil at a Moscow airport. Between the Russian war on Ukraine and the almost complete breakdown of diplomatic relations between the United States and Russia, Greiner became a Russian pawn. And WNBA players stand in solidarity with male athletes as they protest racist police violenceAs the Women’s Federation works to raise awareness of Greiner’s plight, their male counterparts and the male-dominated sports media have been alarmingly quiet.

Although WNBA players stood in solidarity with male athletes as they protest racialized police violence, while the Women’s League works to raise awareness of Greiner’s plight, their male counterparts have been alarmingly quiet.

Greiner appeared in a Russian court on May 13, but in a twist that seemed as predictable as sunset, her pretrial detention was. Another month extension. The The United States and Russia exchanged prisoners late last monthRussia still wants to release the notorious Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout, experts say.Merchant of Deathwho is serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States.

Russia ruthlessly allows Greiner to roll in the wind as it waits for a A fate that could include a 10-year prison sentence. It’s a painful situation, and the WNBA is struggling to bring Griner home.

The league battle comes after two months of silence requested by the US State Department and Greiner’s wife, CherylThe United States tried to negotiate with Russia. But now that the State Department has declared Greiner “unjustly detained,” the players are speaking out.

Some of the league’s most prominent athletes — for example, Seattle Storm star Brianna Stewart — appear on news shows, tweeting and speaking to reporters after games about Greiner’s plight. They’re doing exactly what they should: turn up the temperature at the State Department and demand the use of any back-channel options still in place with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime to “bring Britney home”. In addition, the WNBA has a poster honoring Griner in every court and makes a donation to the Griner Charitable Foundation.

But it seems that the men’s league and most of the sports media cannot be swayed by what must be the biggest story in the sports world. As for sports media, it’s hard not to conclude that just as they give women’s sports briefly attention in their programming — less coverage, less discussion, fewer highlights — so too, they have made Griner’s story an afterthought. Do we doubt for a second that if Tom Brady was in a Russian prison at such a perilous time it wouldn’t be an everyday story? Can anyone argue that there won’t be an on-screen graph tracking the number of days he spent in detention and his separation from his family on the other side of the world?

While the inaction of the major sports media was bleakly anticipated, the silence of the male athletes was disheartening. The Phoenix Suns, who were eliminated from the NBA playoffs, were, by my count, the only exception. Coach Monty Williams spoke. Point guard Chris Paul appeared in a playoff against the Dallas Mavericks ready to discuss Greiner.

“This isn’t just something from the NBA or the WNBA,” Paul said. “I think everyone wants her home. She is such a huge part of the community here. We all support her and just want to try to get her home as quickly as possible. It was all to support BG. We miss her.”

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said on Tuesday He is working with WNBA Commissioner Kathy Engelbert to win the release of Griner and that the NBA’s silence has been advised by experts. It seems that this is no longer the advice, however, the NBA stars have mostly remained silent.

Between 2012 and 2020, when athletes spoke out against racist police violence in unprecedented numbers, WNBA players have done more than just support and solidarity: they were leaders. Colin Kaepernick protested racial injustice while playing the national anthem in August 2016, but WNBA players He protested racial injustice earlier that summer. As the sports world was reeling from the pandemic and the police killing of George Floyd, WNBA women campaigned vigorously for Reverend Raphael Warnock, who was running at the time Against then-WNBA franchisee and Donald Trump supporter Kelly Loeffler To represent Georgia in the Senate. It is no exaggeration to say that these activists played a role in changing the entire balance of power by helping the Democrats win a majority in the US Senate.

It’s no exaggeration to say that WNBA activists played a role in helping Democrats win a majority in the US Senate.

Over the past few years, athletes have been providing props to the WNBA athletes and reminding the public that the leadership of these women is indispensable. But true solidarity is a two-way street. Every male athlete who has benefited from the leadership and courage of the WNBA players and commends them should show leadership for themselves and speak up for the Griner. To ignore them seemingly cheerful is utter disrespect.

There is still time for men in the sports world to change course, but if they don’t use their galactic podiums to amplify Griner’s condition, they will be making a terrible choice. They may find themselves in need of allies in the coming years and wonder why outspoken activists in the WNBA community are nowhere to be found.