Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark made dominant runs in the women’s college basketball tournament this season. As a result, it was a dream come true for fans when Iowa and LSU met in the national championship game, which saw a record-breaking 9 million viewers for a women’s Final Four.
Monday was supposed to be a milestone in women’s college basketball. It was an incredible Final Four that highlighted how far the women’s game has come and can go when provided with the necessary platforms. This spectacular event proved just how good women’s basketball can get when given the right opportunities.
As a result, it is a shame that the conversation was hijacked by a different – and false – narrative sparked by racism and prejudice.
On April 2, Louisiana State University won the NCAA Women’s College Basketball National Championship against the University of Iowa, which should be remembered as one of the biggest accomplishments in women’s sports for this year. But all anyone can talk about is what happened in the last few seconds.
In those waning moments, LSU star power forward Angel Reese taunted Caitlin Clark, the best player on Iowa’s team, reminding her who would have a national championship ring and who wouldn’t.
Cocky? Shameful? Unsportsmanlike? Thuggish? Ghetto?
Prior to this game, Caitlin Clark had an impressive 40-point performance against Louisville, a team widely renowned for their physicality and defensive pressure. And to top it off, she taunted her beaten opponents by making a ‘you can’t see me’ hand gesture just to rub it in.
When a white woman from Iowa, Caitlin Clark taunts the other team during a game it’s “funny” and “part of competition”.— Brian Krassenstein (@krassenstein) April 3, 2023
When a black woman from Louisiana, Angel Reese, decides to do it back, she’s “not showing sportsmanship” and “disgusting”.
If you ever needed an example of… pic.twitter.com/MuHMdO4Tsn
But, no one said anything when Clark, a White woman, showboated and gloated in victory; yet, when she received a dose of her own medicine in defeat from a Black woman, outrage ensued.
Wonder why? Hmm….
Reese’s taunts were met with many negative comments from her haters who felt that she displayed an absence of ‘class’. People said she should have been composed. But Reese simply did to Clark what the latter had previously done to other teams and gotten away with.
Shortly after LSU claimed the win, Reese’s mockery started circulating on social media. And instead of being seen as confident or fun, Reese’s actions were deemed by a vocal few as poor sportsmanship. Keith Olbermann, a former ESPN SportsCenter anchor and MSNBC commentator, called Reese a “fcking idiot.” Dave Portnoy, owner of Barstool Sports, echoed, calling Reese a “classless piece of sht.”
In a feeble attempt to plead their case against Reese, they point out that Clark hadn’t directly taunted Reese during the game and that Clark’s antics — that one Reese was copying — were from a Louisville game.
But that argument completely falls apart when you consider that Reese’s detractors were quiet when Clark was doing the EXACT SAME THING.
When Clark was the entire Louisville Cardinals team, no one was calling her a “classless piece of sh*t” Actually, she was praised — ESPN ran an entire segment on Clark calling her “the queen of the clap backs” complete with crown emoji.
There was obviously a racist double standard at play, but was there more?
Reese and Clark are confronting an extra layer of sexism in their sports. Unfortunately, some adults – especially men – still think that there is no place for any type of badmouthing in women’s sports since females are thought to be better and more courteous compared to men.
So, what did Caitlin Clark have to say about all this?
After facing the taunts from her rival, a humbled Clark simply played it off.
“I have no idea, I was just trying to get to the handshake line,” Clark said in a post-game interview, seemingly taking the loss in stride. “All the credit in the world to LSU … They deserved it. They had a tremendous season. [Coach] Kim Mulkey … only said really kind things to me in the handshake line.”
Earlier today, Clark gave an interview with SportsCenter where she backed Reese’s actions, emphasizing how emotion and rivalries have a positive effect on women’s basketball.
“I’m just lucky enough that I get to play this game and have emotion and wear it on my sleeves, and so does everyone else,” Clark said. “That should never be torn down or never be criticized. I believe that’s what makes this game so fun. That’s what draws people to this game.”
Clark added, “I don’t think Angel should be criticized at all.”
If you can dish it out, you’ve gotta be able to take it, America!
Credit to Clark… she can apparently do both.
But, shame on Reese’s critics who obviously, for whatever reason(s), can’t.
This 21/2 minute discussion on First Take is entirely on-point.