Ibtihaj Muhammad: Black women have been a force. When it comes to the WNBA

Ibtihaj Muhammad: Black women have been a force. When it comes to the WNBA

At the TIME100 Summit this Wednesday, celebrated female athletes Ibtihaj Muhammad and A’ja Wilson advocated for increased U.S. investment in women’s sports.

“I would love to see these big companies…invest in women and invest in the game,” expressed Muhammad, an Olympic fencing medalist, activist, and author. Wilson, an Olympic gold medalist in basketball and WNBA Champion, joined her in the conversation moderated by Pablo Torre, host of the podcast “Pablo Torre Finds Out.” Their discussion followed the recent attention on the wage disparities in sports, highlighted by Caitlin Clark’s comparatively low salary upon being drafted first in the WNBA.

Ibtihaj Muhammad: Black women have been a force. When it comes to the WNBA

Despite recent improvements—like the NCAA allowing college athletes to earn from their names, images, and likenesses—Wilson reflected on how different her college experience would have been under these new rules. “Obviously, my bank account would be the biggest difference but I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that I would have an agent in college,” she remarked.

Wilson also emphasized the importance of not compromising her values for sponsorships, particularly for the visibility of young Black girls. “When it comes to big sponsorships…I’m like, well, you’re gonna get me and I’m not changing that because that’s what needs to be seen,” she stated.

Muhammad highlighted the pivotal role of Black women in the WNBA, saying, “Black women have been a force. When it comes to the WNBA, this is essentially an organization that was built on the backs of Black women.”

Both athletes also stressed the importance of mental health for young sports professionals. “You have to protect your peace first; your brand is gonna come with that but your peace is what really matters,” Wilson advised.

Wilson shared the challenges of transitioning between roles as rivals in the WNBA and teammates in the Olympics. “I go from you being my rival—absolutely can’t stand you— to now it’s like—girl, let’s go get this gold…it’s very hard to do that,” she explained. “But it also shows how elite the athletes are when you make it to that stage.”

Muhammad recalled the undue stress of political questions during her Olympic experience and wished for better preparation from Team USA. Reflecting on her inspirations, she mentioned, “Muhammad Ali has always been at the epicenter of the way that I view my platform.”

Finally, Wilson urged fans to actively support female athletes: “Buy that jersey. Go to that game, take someone else, put your money where your mouth is and invest in these women,” she appealed. Muhammad echoed this sentiment, sharing her own longstanding support for women’s basketball rooted in childhood experiences watching the New York Liberty with her family.

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