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WNBA teams to combat racial and health inequities through a one-of-a-kind partnership with US healthcare giant

Summary List PlacementFour WNBA teams have inked an unprecedented multi-year agreement with one of the largest healthcare companies in the United States. The New York Liberty, Los Angeles Sparks, Atlanta Dream, and Indiana Fever have all partnered with Anthem — of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association — in a...

wnba anthem healthcare

Summary List Placement

Four WNBA teams have inked an unprecedented multi-year agreement with one of the largest healthcare companies in the United States.

The New York Liberty, Los Angeles Sparks, Atlanta Dream, and Indiana Fever have all partnered with Anthem — of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association — in a one-of-a-kind deal to combat racial and health inequities and promoting social justice initiatives within each of the four teams’ local communities. And when any of the squads face off during the WNBA season, players and staff from both sides will host a community event in the home team’s city, giving the partnership a uniquely collaborative feel.

“As part of Anthem’s commitment to being both a national and local leader, we are working in solidarity with our communities to challenge the status quo and address the factors driving disparities and inequities in our healthcare system and in society as a whole,” President and CEO of Anthem, Inc. Gail Boudreaux said.

anthem

Through the agreement, Anthem made multi-year investments in each of the WNBA franchises just as their league embarks on its 25th year of existence. Each WNBA team has partnered with its local Anthem affiliate within the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and will undertake a slightly different social justice initiative relating to health disparities within their respective communities.

The Liberty’s collaboration with Empire BlueCross BlueShield will focus on addressing healthcare inequities towards women in Brooklyn and New York City through their “Women’s Empowerment” platform, “Breast Health Awareness” platform, and “National Days of Recognition” activations, according to the team’s release. Across the country in Southern California, Anthem Blue Cross will join ranks with the Sparks on their “Health and Wellness” community pillar, the “Spark the True You” campaign, and “Keeping Kids in the Game,” an Anthem initiative to provide athletic experiences and health education to children and their families.

In Georgia, the Dream will work with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield to address “food insecurity, mental health, and health disparities” in the greater Atlanta metro area via food drives, health screenings, and other social justice programming.

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Finally, in Anthem’s home state of Indiana, the Fever will work to “make life better for Hoosiers most in need,” team President Dr. Allison Barber said via Indiana’s release. Through the “Athlete to Advocate” professional executive certificate program at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI, Fever players will learn strategies “to raise social awareness of the causes they support, advance solutions, and enhance their philanthropic activities and advocacy through their platform as professional athletes.”

In addition to these efforts, the Fever and Anthem will join forces to lead community efforts across their state and honor locals committed to social justice advocacy via a monthly “Anthem Assists” Award.

These efforts out of New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Indiana are just the latest in a long history of WNBA teams and players committing to social justice initiatives. Last year, the league devoted its 2020 season to Breonna Taylor and the “Say Her Name” campaign. And after protests erupted around the country in light of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, the players forced the league to postpone a slate of games. Players also helped force Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler out of her US Senate seat after making unsavory comments about the Black Lives Matter movement.

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And Anthem’s investment in the four teams reflects the recent uptick in fan and brand interest in the WNBA. Last season’s finals saw a 15% increase in viewership compared to the year prior, with Game 3 enjoying a 34% jump year-over-year. And in a press conference shortly before the end of the 2020 season, Commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced a 68% increase in average regular-season viewership across all platforms.

And now, with an active free agency and wide-open draft coming in April, there’s much anticipation heading into the 2021 campaign. Though plans for the 25th season tipoff remain amorphous amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there are plenty of reasons to believe the WNBA is on the rise — and the Anthem partnerships are chief among them.

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