The Biden Administration is Fighting for Britney Griner
The sad saga of a WNBA player detained in Russia continues with a White House meeting between President Biden and Britney Griner’s wife.
For many happy seasons of women’s basketball in Russia, Britney Griner practiced with her teammates, got to the know the nation well, and enjoyed playing the game she loved against fierce new competitors.
She spent a fair amount of time living and working in Russia; getting familiar with its people and culture, learning, teaching and playing basketball.
Nothing whatsoever happened- certainly not anything which could have been considered an international incident.
Britney Griner could have gone on playing basketball in Russia forever; she might have spent the height of her playing career teaching her Russian coaches and teammates all the secrets of basketball domination in the WNBA.
Had Vladimir Putin not been planning to invade Ukraine, Britney Griner might even now be at home in the U.S. with her wife and family. She might have even been back in Russia by now; finished with her stateside job obligations and ready to share her extraordinary talent with Russian basketball fans, players, coaches and teams.
The end of what might have otherwise been a long and fruitful relationship would have been difficult to see coming.
Cultural exchange, extra money, a chance to play the game; it’s easy to see why playing Russian basketball appealed to Griner, and indeed how it appeals to professional players.
For popular American athletes, the lure of foreign markets is strong with good reason.
Many American sports, like NBA and WNBA basketball, are very popular overseas. Some countries have their own professional sports leagues.
American athletes often make popular choices for foreign teams, who get to access a wealth of knowledge, training methods and different styles used in the U.S. in addition to the athletes following of fans.
For their part, the athlete hired out on such a mission can supplement their U.S. salary with an infusion of foreign cash and use the court time to hone their skills.