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Women’s sports world reacts after Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

Police barricades stand in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. (Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Voices from around the women’s sports world are reacting to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade, which for nearly 50 years had established access to abortion as a constitutional right.

The reversal of Roe v. Wade leaves the right up to individual states, with more than 20 states set to reduce or ban access to abortions.

The Supreme Court voted 6-3 to uphold a Mississippi law to ban almost all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Five justices signed the majority opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade; Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. did not, writing that he would have upheld the Mississippi law but would not have overturned the 1972 precedent.

Following the ruling, athletes, teams and others connected to women’s sports took to social media to share their responses to the news, among them tennis legend Billie Jean King, U.S. women’s national team star Megan Rapinoe and more.

“This decision will not end abortion,” King wrote on Twitter. “What it will end is safe and legal access to this vital medical procedure. It is a sad day in the United States.”

U.S. women’s national team star Megan Rapinoe spoke for 10 minutes before taking questions at the team’s press conference Friday. She said of the Supreme Court’s decision, “I think the cruelty is the point.”

Rapinoe’s USWNT teammate Lindsey Horan also spoke about the decision at the press conference. “I’m still a little bit shocked and trying to take it all in, but I do feel like this is just a step backwards for our country,” Horan said.

Several NWSL teams released statements after the decision, including NJ/NY Gotham FC. The club wrote in a statement it “vehemently objects” to the rollback and that “reproductive rights are human rights.”

“Abortion must not only remain legal, it must be made affordable and accessible nationwide,” the club wrote. “Restricting individuals’ bodily autonomy by requiring patients to travel hundreds of miles to overcome inequitable barriers will have a disproportionately harmful impact on communities of color and other marginalized groups already facing obstacles to healthcare.”

The Kansas City Current wrote on social media that the team is “heartbroken” at the decision.

“Any act against women is an act against our values, our pride and our mission as a club,” the statement reads. “We stand in solidarity with women everywhere and will work to protect the rights of not only our players but women globally.”

The club later amended its initial statement to “acknowledge that this affects all who can reproduce, not just women. Reproductive rights are human rights.”

USWNT and Kansas City Current midfielder Sam Mewis re-posted to her Instagram stories a message from Barack Obama that calls for action to help protect abortion.

More NWSL teams, including OL Reign, Orlando Pride, Angel City FC and Racing Louisville, all came out against the Supreme Court ruling as well, underscoring the importance of access to reproductive health care.

“Kentuckians requiring an abortion will be forced to drive an average of 245 miles for proper healthcare in the wake of today’s Supreme Court decision,” Racing Louisville said in a statement. “This development leaves us especially concerned about marginalized members of our community and future Supreme Court decisions that could impact them.”

The NWSL itself later issued a statement on behalf of the league and Commissioner Jessica Berman.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling today denies individuals in this country the full liberty and equality that is the cornerstone of a just society,” the statement said. “Reproductive rights are human rights.

“The NWSL is more than just a soccer league; we are a collective who will stand up every day for what is right.”

Athletes Unlimited, which hosts softball, lacrosse, basketball and volleyball leagues, also issued a statement.

“At the core of Athletes Unlimited is the belief that athletes should have control of their careers on and off the field, and a voice in decisions — large and small — that affect them,” the statement said. “All women should have the same rights to be decision-makers on issues that affect them, especially in matters that have as profound an impact on their lives as pregnancy.”

Oklahoma softball star Jocelyn Alo, who recently signed with the new Women’s Professional Fastpitch league, also commented. “What a sad day to be a woman,” she wrote on Twitter.

The WNBPA issued a statement decrying the Supreme Court’s decision, saying it “provides a treacherous pathway to abortion bans that reinforce economic, social and political inequalities.”

The statement also included this pointed question: “Are we in a democracy where guns have more rights than women?”

Phoenix Mercury forward Brianna Turner questioned whether the Supreme Court should hold so much power, writing on Twitter, “There’s gotta be a better way.”

Seattle Storm star Sue Bird retweeted several posts urging people to fight for abortion rights, but she kept her own initial reaction to just one word: “Gutted.”

The Washington Mystics and Seattle Storm added their voices to the chorus of WNBA teams and players speaking out on the decision, with both teams emphasizing their commitment to fight for human rights.

“Now we have come to this: people have won the freedom to buy guns with impunity while women have lost the freedom to decide their own future,” Seattle Storm tweeted. “Furious and ready to fight.”

Echoing the Seattle Storm’s statement, Nikki Stanton of OL Reign questioned the Supreme Court’s decisions on gun laws and Roe v. Wade.

“How can we possibly live in a world where one day we overturn a law to make it EASIER to carry guns in public, and the next day BAN abortions? The world can be so cruel,” Stanton wrote. “Hoping for change, and sending extra love to those who need it.”

Metropolitan Riveters captain Madison Packer called out elected officials for protecting gun rights but not abortion rights.

“We have elected officials who feel women can’t make decisions for their own bodies so we overturned Roe v. Wade,” she wrote. “Officials who are so afraid of the LGBTQ+ community that they are banning and threatening its existence. But you can still carry a gun. Who you vote for matters.”

Glennon Doyle, author and investor in Angel City FC, offered words of encouragement to her Twitter followers.

“Comfort to every human being who feels afraid right now. I feel afraid too. it is okay to feel afraid and tender now,” Doyle wrote. “Soon, the anger returns and we fight like bloody hell.”

A draft opinion from the Supreme Court leaked in early May had telegraphed the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and many from the women’s sports world shared their anger and dismay at that time.

Alyssa Naeher’s goalkeeper jersey sells out in less than three hours

uwnt goalie alyssa naeher wears jersey on the field with club team chicago red stars
USWNT star keeper Alyssa Naeher's new replica NWSL jersey was an instant success. (Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports)

For the first time in the NWSL's 12-year history, fans can now buy their own goalkeeper jerseys. And while replica goalkeeper jerseys representing all 14 NWSL teams hit the market on Wednesday, some didn't stick around for long. 

Fans across women's soccer have long vocalized their discontent over the position's lack of availability on social media, often comparing the shortcoming to the widespread availability of men’s goalkeeper jerseys. And as the NWSL has grown, so has demand — and not just from those in the stands. 

"To have goalkeeper kits available for fans in the women’s game as they have been for so long in the men’s game is not only a long-awaited move in the right direction, it’s just good business," said Washington Spirit goalie Aubrey Kingsbury in an team press release. "I can’t wait to see fans representing me, Barnie [Barnhart], and Lyza in the stands at Audi!"

Business does, in fact, appear to be booming. Alyssa Naeher’s Chicago Red Stars kit sold out less than three hours after the league's announcement. Jerseys for other keepers like DiDi Haračić, Abby Smith, Michelle Betos, Katelyn Rowland, and Bella Bixby aren’t currently available via the Official NWSL Shop, though blank goalkeeper jerseys can be customized through some individual team sites. Jerseys start at $110 each.

"This should be the benchmark," said Spirit Chief Operations Officer Theresa McDonnell. "The expectation is that all players’ jerseys are available to fans. Keepers are inspiring leaders and mentors with their own unique fan base who want to represent them... I can’t wait to see them all over the city."

Simone Biles talks Tokyo Olympics fallout in new interview

gymnast simone biles on a balance beam
Biles' candid interview shed light on the gymnast's internal struggle. (Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Decorated gymnast Simone Biles took to the popular Call Her Daddy podcast this week to open up about her experience at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, revealing she thought she was going to be "banned from America" for her performance.

After Biles botched her vault routine due to a bout of the "twisties," she withdrew from the team final as well as the all-around final in order to focus on her mental health. She later reentered the competition to win bronze in the individual balance beam final.

In her interview with podcast host Alex Cooper, Biles admitted to feeling like she let the entire country down by failing her vault attempt.

"As soon as I landed I was like 'Oh, America hates me. The world is going to hate me. I can only see what they’re saying on Twitter right now,'" she recalled thinking. "I was like, ‘Holy s---, what are they gonna say about me?'"

"I thought I was going to be banned from America," she continued. "That’s what they tell you: Don’t come back if not gold. Gold or bust. Don’t come back."

Widely regarded as the greatest gymnast of all time, Biles has hinted at a desire to join her third Olympic team in Paris, though her participation won't be confirmed until after the gymnastics trials in late June. She holds over 30 medals from the Olympic Games and World Artistic Gymnastics Championships combined, and if qualified, would be a sure favorite heading into this summer’s games.

Caitlin Clark reportedly nearing $20 million+ Nike deal

Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever poses for a portrait at Gainbridge Fieldhouse during her introductory press conference
WNBA-bound Caitlin Clark is said to be closing in on a monumental NIke deal. (Photo by Matt Kryger/NBAE via Getty Images)

Caitlin Clark is reportedly close to cementing a hefty endorsement deal with Nike.

The Athletic was the first to break the news Wednesday evening, commenting that the deal would be worth "eight figures" and include her own signature shoe. On Thursday afternoon, the publication tweeted that the deal would top $20 million, according to lead NBA Insider Shams Charania. Both Under Armour and Adidas are said to have also made sizable offers to the college phenom and expected future WNBA star.

The new agreement comes after Clark's previous Nike partnership ended with the conclusion of the college basketball season. She was one of five NCAA athletes to sign an NIL deal with the brand back in October, 2022. 

Considering Clark's overwhelming popularity and Nike's deep pockets, the signing's purported value doesn't exactly come as a shock. New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu’s deal with the brand is reportedly worth $24 million, while NBA rookie and No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama’s deal is rumored to weigh in at $100 million. And in 2003, LeBron James famously earned $90 million off his own Nike deal. 

Clark’s star power continues to skyrocket, with the NCAA championship averaging 18.9 million viewers and the 2024 WNBA Draft more than doubling its previous viewership record. Following the draft, Fanatics stated that Clark's Indiana Fever jersey — which sold out within an hour — was the top seller for any draft night pick in the company’s history, with droves of unlucky fans now being forced to wait until August to get their hands on some official No. 22 gear.

In Wednesday's Indiana Fever introductory press conference, the unfailingly cool, calm, and collected Clark said that turning pro hasn’t made a huge impact on how she’s conducting her deals.

"If I’m being completely honest, I feel like it doesn’t change a ton from how I lived my life over the course of the last year," she said. "Sponsorships stay the same. The people around me, agents and whatnot, have been able to help me and guide me through the course of the last year. I don’t know if I would be in this moment if it wasn’t for a lot of them."

Star slugger Jocelyn Alo joins Athletes Unlimited AUX league

softball star jocelyn alo rounds the bases at an oklahoma sooners game
Former Oklahoma star Jocelyn Alo has signed with Athletes Unlimited. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Former Oklahoma slugger Jocelyn Alo has signed on with Athletes Unlimited and will compete in the AU Pro Softball AUX this June.

The NCAA record holder in career home runs (122), total bases (761), and slugging percentage (.987), Alo was originally drafted by the league in 2022 but opted instead to join the newly debuted Women’s Professional Fastpitch

Alo currently plays for independent pro softball team Oklahoma City Spark, with team owner Tina Floyd reportedly on board with her recent AUX signing. AUX games are scheduled for June 10-25, while the Spark's season will kick off June 19th. Alo will play for both. 

Among those joining Alo on the AUX roster are former James Madison ace pitcher Odicci Alexander and former Wichita State standout middle infielder Sydney McKinney.

According to Alo, the decision to play in the Athletes Unlimited league was fueled by her desire to propel women's sports forward as well as provide more exposure to a sport that's given her "so many opportunities."

"Not only to challenge myself more, but just for the growth of the game," Alo said, explaining her reasoning to The Oklahoman. "I genuinely believe that professional softball can be a career for girls."

Joining AUX is also one more step in her plan toward representing Team USA at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

"I’m constantly thinking about how can I do these little things right in these four years to prepare me for the biggest stage of softball," she told The Oklahoman. "I definitely want to play in the Olympics, for sure."

Alo further expressed enthusiasm in the hope that the rise of other women’s sports, like women’s basketball and the NWSL, will push softball’s professional viability even higher.

"We’re seeing the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) get their stuff going, I see the WNBA starting to get hot," she continued. "I feel like the softball community is like, 'All right, it’s our turn and it’s our turn to just demand more.'"

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