Of course, one can’t equate domestic violence in the WNBA with domestic violence in men’s professional sports. Last year, ESPN counted 48 players “considered guilty of domestic violence under league policy” in the NFL since 2000, and Bleacher Report noted nine NBA players charged with domestic assault in the past three years. Even the most creative Googling for “WNBA domestic assault” won’t return numbers like these. Still, the league is not immune from the problem.
Though WNBA players in legal trouble are not covered as closely as male pro athletes in similar jams, there were reports that Jantel Lavender of the Los Angeles Sparks was hit with a restraining order by her ex-boyfriend in 2011 after a fight; that former WNBA player Deanna “Tweety” Nolan was arrested for allegedly assaulting her wife in 2012; and in 2013, former WNBA player Chamique Holdsclaw pleaded guilty to assault after her girlfriend, another WNBA player, reported Holdsclaw shot at her SUV.
Yet, when Congress wrote a letter urging professional sports leagues to clarify their domestic violence policies after the Ray Rice incident last year, the WNBA was not on the list of recipients.