NEW YORK – The WNBA will continue to raise awareness about important women’s health equity issues in advance of the 2023 WNBA Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game presented by Coinbase, which will be played between the Las Vegas Aces and the New York Liberty on Tuesday, Aug. 15 at 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas. Fans can stream the game on Prime Video.
“Through a series of activations all season, the WNBA, WNBPA, teams, and players are bringing awareness to some of the most critical health matters facing women, and particularly women of color,” said Bethany Donaphin, Head of WNBA League Operations. “We are committed to being champions for health equity and believe our focus on key pillars can help improve care access and health outcomes in communities that are most under resourced.”
These efforts are part of the WNBA/WNBPA Social Justice Council’s dedication of the 2023 season to women’s health advocacy, with a focus on Black, Brown and LGBTQ+ communities. The Social Justice Council includes the Los Angeles Sparks’ Layshia Clarendon and Jasmine Thomas, the Las Vegas Aces’ Alysha Clark, the New York Liberty’s Breanna Stewart, and the Phoenix Mercury’s Brianna Turner.
The Social Justice Council is highlighting four key pillars of women’s health: maternal health, mental health, reproductive health and cancer prevention and awareness. With this focus, the WNBA aims to shine a light on support systems and resources designed to address the maternal mortality crisis, especially in the Black community; to destigmatize mental health issues; to support reproductive health resources; and to draw attention to the disparities in cancer incidence, care, and outcomes for women of color.
“Women’s health is our health. Women’s health is society’s health,” said Jasmine Thomas, Social Justice Council Member. “Off the court, so many of us are engaged with organizations doing this work. So, we know and feel that more attention, education, and resources are needed to protect all women and our rights to access healthcare and support. This season’s dedication and the subsequent activations are a step in the right direction.”
For this year’s Commissioner’s Cup presented by Coinbase, each WNBA team chose a local women’s health organization to play for, with donations accumulating based on cup record. The selected organizations and their missions are below:
|Team||Partner Organization||Mission of Organization|
|Helping Mamas||To supply mothers in need of help with essential baby items.|
|Chicago Sky||Sista Afya Community Care||To provide community mental wellness care centered on the experiences of Black women.|
|Connecticut Sun||Waterbury Bridge to Success’s #Day43 Campaign||To combat Black maternal mortality and support equitable environments for all birthing women and their babies.|
|Dallas Wings||Sisters Network||To save lives and address the breast cancer survivorship crisis affecting African American women.|
|Indiana Fever||The Wheeler Mission Center for Women and Children||To help meet the growing demand for shelter and services for homeless women and children.|
|Las Vegas Aces||NAMI Southern Nevada||To improve quality of life by increasing awareness and reducing stigma surrounding mental health conditions through support, education, and advocacy.|
|Los Angeles Sparks||California Women’s Law Center||To advance the potential of women and girls through litigation, policy advocacy and education.|
|Minnesota Lynx||African American Breast Cancer Alliance||To educate and support Black Americans in their journeys with breast cancer and survivorship.|
|New York Liberty||Callen Lorde Health Center||To provide sensitive, quality health care and related services to New York’s LQBTQ+ communities, regardless of ability to pay.|
|Phoenix Mercury||Arizona Birthworkers of Color||To uplift the personal and professional development of community-based birthworkers of color.|
|Seattle Storm||Therapy Fund Foundation||To empower people of color through mental health education and radical self-care.|
|Washington Mystics||MedStar Health’s DC Safe Babies Safe Moms Initiative||To improve the health and well-being of mothers and infants in Washington, D.C.|
In addition, the WNBA is highlighting national organizations doing meaningful work across the four identified pillars by making financial contributions and partnering on community initiatives and awareness campaigns.
For the maternal health pillar, the WNBA is working with the Southern Birth Justice Network, which expands Birth Justice by improving access to midwifery and doula care. The league is also partnering with the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, which helps Black mothers and birthing people to advocate for Black maternal health, rights, and justice.
For the mental health pillar, the league is supporting The Loveland Foundation, which is committed to healing communities of color through therapy support, with a particular focus on Black women and girls, as well as The Trevor Project, which provides crisis support services to LBGTQ+ young people.
For the reproductive health pillar, the WNBA is spotlighting LOOM, a health information app helping to educate and connect women through science and reproductive health stories.
For the cancer prevention and awareness pillar, the league is partnering with TOUCH, Black Breast Cancer Alliance to amplify its For the Love of My Gurls campaign, as well as the American Cancer Society in its work to address health equity, early cancer detection and prevention.
August also marks WNBA Breast Health Awareness (BHA), which empowers women to proactively manage the risks of breast and ovarian cancer. The WNBA and its teams will coordinate events and in-arena activations and promote community partner initiatives dedicated to cancer awareness and prevention. All teams will wear women’s health warmup shirts and host a BHA game night, with some teams also hosting Play4Kay games in support of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.