WNBA leads way for 'hoopers' voting campaign

How NBA and WNBA players have committed to ending voter suppression (4:30)

NBA and WNBA players have issued a call to action to combat voter suppression and help make real change on Nov. 3. (4:30)

With a league that has "over 90%" of its eligible players registered to vote, WNBA Players Association executive director Terri Jackson says participating in Hoopers Vote Day on Thursday was a no-brainer.

"The WNBA players are precisely the demographic that can energize folks around registering to vote and talking about their plan to vote," Jackson told ESPN this week.

Hoopers Vote is an initiative supported by Rock the Vote, aimed at bringing members from all corners of the basketball community -- including WNBA and NBA players, coaches, retired basketball stars and basketball media members -- together in order to promote voter registration and voting education heading into the 2020 election season.

Hoopers Vote Day comes just days after National Voter Registration Day and during National Voter Registration Week.

Among the Hoopers Vote ambassadors confirmed as participants are Basketball Hall of Famers such as James Worthy, Alex English and Lisa Leslie; WNBA players Nneka Ogwumike and Layshia Clarendon; and NBA players Duncan Robinson and Jaren Jackson Jr. (who is Terri Jackson's son). Others participating include NBA draft prospect Cassius Stanley; Golden State Warriors assistant coach Jarron Collins and his brother, former NBA player Jason Collins; NBA superfan and actor Jerry Ferrara; and former players working in the media such as Steve Smith, Kenny Smith, Quentin Richardson, Channing Frye and ESPN's Jalen Rose.

In order to raise awareness for the campaign and all the voter registration resources available at HoopersVote.org when the website goes live Thursday, the ambassadors will post personalized Hoopers Vote images to their social media channels, hoping to flood followers' feeds with the message. More than 200 individual graphics were commissioned from artist Elliot Gerard, with the potential to reach millions of users.

"I think it's an excellent strategy," said Terri Jackson. "You can say, 'What does a T-shirt do?' or, 'What's the impact of that, really?' Well, it's phenomenal. Particularly with a league like ours. We are small enough to organize -- around our executive committee and our player reps on down -- and then we're large enough to make a statement. I think that's the beauty of our league."

The Hoopers Vote website will serve as a virtual election center where players, team members, fans and the rest of the basketball community can educate themselves by viewing their state's voting policies, signing up for election reminders and, of course, register to vote or check their voter registration status.

"The messages players are sharing on social media, their jerseys, pregame gear, and other platforms are more than words. These messages comprise a vision and a mission," Rock the Vote president Carolyn DeWitt said in a statement to ESPN. "Hoopers Vote is a movement that brings together the basketball community to amplify the power we have to vote and impact the issues affecting our communities."

As part of the Hoopers Vote partnership, Rock the Vote, the WNBPA and WNBA will run a PSA this week detailing how to become an informed voter that will air on ESPN.

"Having and utilizing my right to vote means that I have a voice in running this country," English, the No. 20 all-time scorer in NBA history, said in a statement. "Even though it's only one vote, it's important. One drop of water helps all the other drops create our oceans immense power."

Jackson, who joined the WNBPA in 2016, explained that the Hoopers Vote mission fits her players' commitment to use their platform for social change.

"If we're talking about Black Lives Matter, if we're talking about the Say Her Name campaign and we're talking about the policy initiatives that have to come out of that and surround that to really support those movements, that campaign, then we're talking about voting," Jackson said.

"We're talking about those who make policy in the executive branch. We're talking about those who enforce it. We're talking about those who are enacting the laws in the legislative branch. And those who will preside over civil and criminal cases in the judicial branch. ... [In] understanding how to connect the dots, it all led to voting."

NBA players caught flak when it was revealed during an emergency meeting following the Milwaukee Bucks' protest of a playoff game that only approximately 20% of eligible voters cast their ballot in the last election, according to Marc Spears of ESPN's The Undefeated. Since that meeting, more materials were made available inside the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida, in order to encourage voter registration.

Hoopers Vote joins other voting initiatives with basketball roots in emphasizing voting to the sports world. The LeBron James-backed More Than a Vote and The Social Change Fund, which was created by Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade, are among others.

"How do we keep the momentum going? How do we reach the goals?" Jackson said. "You do that by empowering folks to recognize what the power of their vote will mean and what it will do."