The WNBA has announced a seven-game suspension for players Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson, as they celebrate one week of marriage today. Griner and Johnson were arrested last month on domestic violence charges after a verbal altercation between the betrothed turned physical.
Brittney Griner had accepted responsibility for the matter, pled guilty to disorderly conduct, and was sentenced to a diversion program. Last week, it seemed the couple had put the whole ugly incident behind them when Griner and Johnson tied the knot atop a mountain in Phoenix.
While Griner may have been the one to shoulder the blame in court, it seems the WNBA felt both she and Johnson were equally responsible for the fight that occurred on April 22. Johnson’s sister had called police when family members were unable to separate her and Griner. A police report divulged that Griner had sustained bite marks to her hand while Johnson had noticeable abrasions to her lip.
The WNBA had been relatively quiet on the Brittney Griner/Glory Johnson matter until now. In a statement released today, WNBA league President Laurel J. Richie had this to say:
“As president, it is my responsibility to protect the league and uphold its values. Our athletes represent the WNBA, and they all must abide by the league’s standards of conduct. In this case, Brittney (Griner) and Glory (Johnson) failed to do so, and that is unacceptable…With consideration of all the facts and circumstances of this matter, we are suspending Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson each without pay for a period of seven regular-season games. Brittney and Glory’s conduct is detrimental to the best interests of the WNBA and violates applicable law.”
The WNBA punishment also includes required individual counseling for Griner and Johnson.
Professional athletic leagues have been under a high level of scrutiny this year for the way in which domestic violence situations have been handled. The NFL came under fire for its initial two-game suspension response to Ray Rice’s elevator incident and the United States Soccer Federation also faced backlash for not enforcing any punishment for goalkeeper Hope Solo in the wake of her domestic violence arrest.
Rice was later suspended from the league while Solo found herself sitting out for thirty days following a second arrest. WNBA fans waited to see if Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson would be just as lucky or used to set a “no tolerance” example.
As New England Patriots fans complain that Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for “deflategate” was too heavy handed, WNBA fans may be feeling the same about this punishment, not only for Johnson but even more so for Brittney Griner.
While both Griner and Johnson are formidable players, Griner’s Phoenix Mercury were last year’s league champions and her playing ability earned her the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year title. A WNBA season is only 34 games long. When compared to the NBA, the equivalent would be a 17 game suspension. Though Brittney Griner makes the bulk of her income playing internationally, it remains to be seen how and if the WNBA suspension will impact her career long term.
What do you think? Was the WNBA’s decision on Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson the right call?
[Image courtesy of Los Angeles Times.]