Mispronunciation of Black WNBA Players' Names Cited | Athletic Business

Mispronunciation of Black WNBA Players' Names Cited

Minnesota Lynx forward Natalie Achonwa (uh-CHON-wuh) called out announcers and broadcasters for ongoing mispronunciations and misspellings of Black WNBA players names.

Achonwa, who’s played in the WNBA for seven years, had her name misspelled in a graphic during a Lynx game on June 6, according to a USA Today report.

“Damn, don’t even have to worry about the pronunciation…” Achonwa wrote on Twitter. “Seven years in the league and I can’t even get my last name spelt right.”

Nneka Ogwumike (NEH-kuh oh-gwoo-MIH-kay) from the Los Angeles Sparks posted images on Instagram to show a pattern of misspellings and mispronunciations by announcers and broadcasters. The list included New York Liberty rookie Michaela Onyenwere (own-yen-were-ey), Dallas Wings star Arike Ogunbowale (ah-REE-kay oh-goon-bow-WAH-lay) and Chicago Sky forward Astou Ndour (ahh-stoo doo).

The examples Ogwumike posted were the league's athletes of color and international players. All the players are Black. Ndour was born in Senegal, and Achonwa is from Canada.

WNBA teams provide pronunciation guides for each player’s name.

“I don’t see as many missteps pronouncing names of players with a more European name…” Ogwumike, who is also president of the WNBA Players’ Association, said. “And I hope I don’t have to go on the record because I had this exact conversation with the media last year.”

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