Unafraid of the limelight, WNBA star Brianna Turner has seemingly always been at the forefront when it comes to activism. The now 24-year-old forward for the Phoenix Mercury has a long track record of making her beliefs known as seen in the earlier stages of her career at Notre Dame.
Even more recently, during her second year in the WNBA she once again rose to the forefront of the news with this interview on ESPN as she addressed her unique perspective on police brutality and the untimely deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
Fast forward a few more months to the present day and we once again can find Turner speaking out, this time about the lack of equity in the NCAA's March Madness Tournament where image comparisons recently revealed the vast differences between the Men and Women's side of the tournament.
During our interview this past November, Turner addressed numerous topics ranging from playing in the WNBA to gender equity in sports, and even social activism.
While focusing on the latter, Turner was asked if there's anything more that can be done on our part, whether it be in person or on the web, to which she responded:
"There's always more work to be done. It's just like they say: 'It's not a moment, it's a movement,’ and if you want to do something there's always going to be more people you can reach out to; there's always more topics to discuss; more research being put out. Change is an ongoing thing."
I know you touched on this in a seminar last week, but during your time and experience with Notre Dame did you learn of anything that student-athletes can do to impact change?
Definitely, I learned that with social activism, you can really just start locally. Whether it be your local town or small city, you can reach out to organizations. You can write to the local government, maybe do an internship and just try to discover what you're passionate about.
I know that at Notre Dame we had a student-athlete resource center, and we kind of just went to them and were like: "We want to do this", and they reached out, sent emails or made phone calls to people around South Bend. So we were really able to interact with the community around us. I'd say to definitely use your school's facilities and make use of your school's resources because they surely have a lot of connections.
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With the "Say Her Name" movement, the WNBA and its players brought a lot of well-needed attention to the death of Breonna Taylor. Like with anything there's always going to be some occasional scrutiny or backlash whether it be in person or via social media in a comment section. How do you handle any backlash you may receive?
I occasionally respond to a few comments, but for the majority I just let it go because you're just not going to get through to a lot of people. Some people come at us [athletes] so recklessly and you just know that they're not going to change their mind. Some people just take in every bit of random information they find in the deep dark web and the depths of Facebook. . . . So at some point, I just look at it like some people just really can't be helped and it is what it is.
Gender Equity in Sports
How do you keep pushing past any ridicule or criticism from spectators or men who like to downplay women's sports, the WNBA, and player's achievements?
Yeah, it's just going to happen regardless. I mean, it's frustrating when you want people to respect you and respect what you're passionate about whether it's your career, your sport, or xyz.
At the end of the day, you kind of have to let people talk because that's just what they're going to do, but when it's all said and done my check is still going to clear, so I can't really be worried about what some random person on Twitter is saying about me.
How do you think we can push for gender equity in sports?
I would say putting more female sports on TV. I mean, a lot of times when you see advertisements they're for male sports and men's teams. I think I read somewhere that female sports get less than like 4% of coverage out of all the sports, so with that said, of course you always know when the next NBA game is or when the next MLS, MLB, or NFL game comes on. But ask yourself when's the next women's soccer game. When's the next women's basketball game?
More advertisements would go a long way. The more women's sports appear in commercials. The more people will know about games, because normally when you turn on the tv to a sports channel you're going to definitely see an NBA commercial or NFL commercial. So I think there's just a lack of sponsorships, especially in terms of commercials and stuff like that.
What advice do you have for up-and-coming female athletes who are entering a world where people oftentimes disregard female sports?
"Know that there are people that support women's sports, it might not seem like it, but there are people out there who appreciate our game and that judge us as athletes as a whole instead of just as female athletes."
I just shared some of Brianna Turner's insights about her experience as an athlete-activist! Have you engaged in activism? Tell us in the comments below! Feel free to share our tips and advice by hitting the share button and leaving a like!
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