Look at the schedule of virtually every professional and collegiate team in the country and you’re sure to find dates where the club aligns itself with a popular cause or constituency. There are Girl and Boy Scout Days, canned food and blood donation drives and salutes to the military, all the types of events that everyone can get behind.
What most teams avoid like the plague are instances where the club could be in cahoots with something controversial. And teams certainly stay away from involvement with anything that could be seen as political. In that vein, July 18 could be a very interesting date on the American sports calendar.
That’s the day that the Seattle Storm of the WNBA have a scheduled “Stand With Planned Parenthood” rally at their home arena.
In addition, $5 from every ticket sold for the game between the Storm and the Chicago Sky will be donated to the Planned Parenthood chapter of the great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. The team will also host a fund-raising auction on behalf of Planned Parenthood.
One of the Storm’s owners, Dawn Trudeau, told the New York Times that she had been frustrated that she couldn’t be more impactful in the discussion over health care in this country.
So, when one of the partners went to a Planned Parenthood event, Trudeau said "a light bulb went off there that this was an organization we should do something with."
It’s certainly been chronicled in this space the inconspicuous connections between sports organizations and conservative causes.
Many football owners and players, for instance, give generously to Republican candidates and political action committees, but usually surreptitiously, so as not to offend.
By contrast, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick remains out of work after he knelt during the national anthem last season.
On the other hand, there are few sports that are tied to progressive or liberal PACs.
The notable exception is basketball. College and professional players have historically identified themselves with issues of principal concern to the left.
And the WNBA is an especially reliable incubator for progressive ideas to be hatched.
Remember that before NBA stars LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade took the stage to essentially align themselves with the Black Lives Matter movement last summer players from the Minnesota Lynx and New York Liberty had taken up that cause.
But the Storm’s championing of Planned Parenthood feels different somehow.
A Planned Parenthood executive told the Times that the Storm’s event next month marks the first time that the organization has partnered with a sports franchise.
Though Planned Parenthood offers such vital services as providing mammograms and heart disease prevention to women, it has been tabbed by the right as one of the chief sources of abortions.
Indeed, a spokesperson for a Washington state right to life group called Planned Parenthood the number one abortion provider in the country and wondered aloud if fans who are opposed to abortion would be welcomed or could opt out.
If the events of July 18 are a success, the calendars of American sports teams could get a whole lot more interesting going forward.
And that’s how I see it for this week.