People may not be invested in sports, but we all have a level of
familiarity with the case of WNBA star, Brittney Griner. Griner, born October 18 1990, is a former WNBA
champion, two time scoring champion, all star, and all time great in the WNBA. As beloved as her
accolades are, the woman is far less revered. More so, she is vilified. Brittney Griner is cast as a
braggadocios, arrogant baller who has the nerve to assert the she could defeat DeMarcus Cousins in a
one on one game. The traits of being a braggart and arrogant were also used to describe Muhammad Ali
and Floyd Mayweather. But Brittney Griner’s situation differs in the sense that she is a woman on openly
It is almost nationalism to mock Brittney Griner for her deep huskily voice and six foot nine frame. She is
just as tall as Lebron James. Before being arrested in Russia for transporting drugs ( hash oil in
cartridges), the media depicted Griner as delusional and lavishing in success she only had because her
gender saved her from true competition. Even the organization, Griner played in only exists because of
the NBA being benevolent. This is what a top female star is subjected to. There were no G.O.A.T
comparisons, just derision and reinforcement of the notion that "You are lucky to be a woman. Now act
like one." Support for Griner only came after her arrest.
On February 17 2022, Brittney Griner was arrested for smuggling drugs into Russia. Americans cried out
that her arrest was political due to Russia having invaded Poland, although the Russian occupation of
Poland began exactly one week later. In addition, Griner played basketball in Russia during the WNBA
off-season to supplement the paltry salaries women are paid against that of the NBA.
When asking if Brittney Griner deserves jail, the question is flawed. That is because, the question is a
combination of other thoughts and process. Could it mean things such as “ Did Brittney Griner break the
law?”, “Should we do a prisoner exchange?” or “Is 10 years too long of a sentence?”. Both valid
questions, but we must also consider one thing. As an American, what we think about the affairs of a
foreign superpower is nil. We are spectators on a global stage.
Not to be trite but please consider this, Brittney Griner also knelt down instead of saluting the American
flag. She was quoted as saying, “I don’t see the need for the national anthem to played before games”.
And some very conservative and bigoted groups have come to the conclusion that Brittney Griner has
turned her back on the United States. While her stance is not the most patriotic, it is her right under the
constitution to practice freedom of speech and religion. She is free to express herself without prejudice
and showing contempt for her on the basis of freedom of speech is un-American and unconstitutional. If
Brittney Griner truly had the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, then all she did was exercise them.
Brittney Griner has spent her off-seasons from the WNBA in Russia. The laws in Russia regarding drug
use were not new to her, but the enforcement of those laws is. Even in Griner’s native city of Waco,
Texas, possession of marijuana is still illegal. It is a B class misdemeanor. Therefore, when people say
that marijuana has been decriminalized here, they are wrong on two major fronts. Firstly, just because
your city is marijuana friendly doesn’t mean the rest of the world is. Secondly, Americans have the
belief that the world is a microcosm, representative of the views of the United States. And that is simply
not the case. When you enter a foreign nation, you are still an American. You are now an American who
must follow rules of the country where you are and not where you are from.
On this front alone, yes Brittney Griner should be punished in some capacity. The question is then; Is a
decade in prison, during an athlete’s prime, just? Brittney Griner is 31 years old. On August 4 2022,
Brittney Griner was sentenced nine and a half years in prison. The sentence for the same crime in her
hometown is a monetary fine. But she isn’t at home. Does she deserve to be punished in some capacity?
Yes. Should her best years be taken away and her prospect of freedom only appear at the age where
most stars have retired (41)? Absolutely not.
The truth indictment against Brittney Griner is that she is an African American. Audrey Lorber, an
American woman ( Note than no ethnic descriptor is needed for people who are not of color), also came
to Russia with recreational drugs. She actually came with 19 grams, compared to .07 grams for Griner.
That means Lorber brought almost 30 times the amount that Griner did. And the sentence Lorber
received was a few months. But we should not blame Russia for that. This is the fault of America.
Brittney Griner will be the victim of her own excess. But, the push that sent her over the cliff came in the
form a bigoted, racist, superpower that she was forced to call home. The starting WNBA salary of
$126,000 is roughly 2% of the NBA salary of $5,400,000. Brittney Griner was ostracized as being non
patriotic for using her right of self expression in “the land of the free”. If we won’t protect her and
others from hate, why would anyone else? We had a star athlete. She is the embodiment of every
classification of people who are discriminated against. The truth is that the cry to free Britney Griner is
only an attempt to assuage the guilt of those who would be detractors, were she never arrested. Is she
loud?- Very much so! Arrogant?- No more so than every super star. Is she guilty?- Yes. And so, even
though we now want to come to her aid and save her from a foreign evil, we still have the evil at home
that believe she deserves the extent of her punishment. To be in debt to those who despise you is no
position of envy.
As an American citizen, your opinion on the matter falls miserably below the threshold for merit.
Brittney Griner is in Russia. Should the United States trade an arms dealer for her return? Admittedly, if I
had the option of trading an arms dealer whose profession guarantees the death of multitudes for the
safe return of one person.....F*** no! Luckily, the nuances of politics and valuation of human life is not
If this event serves no other purpose, let the arrest of Brittney Griner serve as a cautionary tale. Be
aware of your surroundings. Know the law and follow it. Complacency is a killer. And always stay sharp.