October 18, 2022
Melinda Head

Brittney Griner Turns 31 Today

Who’s really responsible for her detainment?

Brittney Griner turns 31 today. It won’t be a happy birthday, but that doesn’t prevent us from sending her good vibes.

This 6’9” woman, who wears a men’s size 17 shoe and has an 87.5” arm span, has never had an easy go of it.

“Just walking around, it’s kind of like being on display at a museum, like being on display 24/7.” (Brittney Griner)

She’s been thrown out of women’s washrooms and accused of “tucking it”. Can you imagine not being able to pee without being earmarked as a freak or an impostor? How awful. Especially for a woman who is perfectly sculpted to play basketball.

Brittney Griner revealed her incredible physique in ESPN The Magazine’s 2015 Body Issue

In art history there are many examples of males in sport, but very few of women and, certainly, none that reflect today’s female athletes. It’s time to change the traditional association of sport as a masculine outlet. Pictured here is “The Discobolus”, a Myron masterpiece replica from the mid-5th century BC

Adding to her physical stature, Griner has carried the burden of being openly gay.

“Being one that’s out, it’s just being who you are.” (Brittney Griner)

“I am a strong, black, lesbian woman. Every single time I say it, I feel so much better.” (Brittney Griner)

Brittney Griner was the first overall pick in the 2013 WNBA draft. Love her Emmy-nominated Kellen Richards white outfit, which included orange argyle socks and orange nail polish

While I admire Nike’s guts in choosing Brittney to be their first proudly gay partner athlete, I am wondering why we haven’t heard much from Nike about Ms. Griner, as it has the budget to set the world on fire in support of her cause. A quick look at their website reveals lofty slogans such as:  Never Done Rising, Never Done Questioning, Never Done Making Moves, Never Done Inspiring, Never Done Imagining. How about: Never Done BGing?

Brittney Griner played basketball in Russia because, as a woman, it was a place for her to supplement her income during the off-season. Now that she’s sitting in a Russian prison (soon to be sent to a penal colony/work camp), it is ironic that she will likely never have to worry about money again once she has been released, as interviews, speaking engagements, broadcasting opportunities, books and film deals will be plentiful. I’m sure she’d trade it all for her freedom in a heartbeat.

Brittney Griner is a marketer’s dream

Brittney Griner during a happier moment in her life

Brittney’s average annual salary in her current 3-year WNBA contract is: $221, 515. In comparison, the average NBA player salary is $7.5 million, with her male counterpart superstars in the $40+ million range. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark (as famously spoken in the play “Hamlet”, by William Shakespeare). Should female athletes be satisfied with a deal that allows them to have a private, rather than shared, room when on the road? Why do women shoot so low? Do female athletes like Brittney deserve just crumbs?

Who’s to blame that Griner is languishing in a Russian prison? Purists will say it’s her own fault. I say it’s professional sports leadership that is to blame: if Brittney had been adequately paid for her phenomenal contributions to basketball, she would never have had to leave the Country to earn her rightful compensation.

Yes, others, who are equally loved by their friends and families, are languishing in Russian prisons. Brittney is not alone. Perhaps, this time, who she is has worked in her favor, as all eyes are on Ms. Griner. I’d rather see her on the basketball court, benefitting from balanced A-level network basketball coverage, and both pay and sponsorship equity with her male counterparts. Let’s fix our own evil.

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About the Author

A serial entrepreneur, Melinda is a sociologist and statistician who believes there is no currency with greater value than knowledge

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