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Cheryl Reeve thinks that women, and especially women of color, should have more opportunities to lead in the WNBA.
Fortunately, she can make that happen single-handedly.
Reeve is both the head coach and the general manager of Minnesota's WNBA team, the Lynx, which, along with the Star Tribune, is owned by Glen Taylor. Reeve is good at both jobs: she's a coaching legend in women's basketball (a three-time WNBA coach of the year, a four-time world champion, and the newly minted head coach of the U.S. women's national team), and she recently won the league's award for executive of the year.
She's also a leading advocate for social justice. After the 2016 shooting of Philando Castile, Reeve's squad was the first to openly advocate for police reform, with players donning T-shirts saying "CHANGE STARTS WITH US," in all caps. Coach Reeve has also been a vocal supporter of Black Lives Matter and supported canceling a game after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., in 2020.
"You can't have change with people like us sitting there and accepting it. It takes courage and it takes sacrifice," she said at the time.
Reeve also advocates hiring women of color to lead WNBA teams. For her part, she has pledged to hire only female assistant coaches, with priority given to women of color.
But in Reeve's own words, change takes courage and sacrifice. And in this case, "CHANGE STARTS WITH …" her.
In the name of the social justice that she herself champions, Reeve should give one of her two leadership positions with the Lynx to a woman of color.
That would be courage. That would be sacrifice.
Importantly, it's not too big of a sacrifice, either. Reeve holds not one but two jobs at the pinnacle of her profession. By "only" being a head coach or general manager of a professional team, she could give a huge opportunity to a woman of color, all while maintaining her livelihood and notoriety in a career she loves.
As a bonus, Reeve would undoubtedly get to pick her successor. She's the general manager, after all, but even if she weren't, she has an "in" with upper management: She's married to Carley Knox, the Lynx's president of business operations.
That's right, the Reeve-Knox family holds three top jobs in the Lynx organization. They could probably spare one of them, especially for a cause that they both so vocally support. (Knox also serves on the WNBA Diversity Hiring Task Force.) They could even pick which of their jobs to give up, and who would get it.
Come to think of it, that doesn't sound like much of a sacrifice at all. Reeve has said that juggling her new role with Team USA will make life "a little more stressful." Passing the baton might be a relief, as well as a privilege.
Reeve is probably in the midst of renegotiating her contract, which expires after the upcoming season. As a coaching legend and award-winning executive, she has nothing left to prove. She has all the leverage.
Coach Reeve, now is the time to provide a woman of color with a high-profile opportunity in professional women's sports. The change starts with you.
P.A. Jensen writes about politics, sports, and rural life at RuralityCheck.com. He lives in Duluth with his wife and son. Twitter: @P_A_Jensen