COMMENTARY: The controversy around Angel Reese is disgusting and racist

A bigoted double standard reared its ugly head on Sunday


Courtesy of Alexander Jonesi

Angel Reese played for Maryland before transferring to LSU and winning the National Championship in 2023.

HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen sports co-editor

The women’s basketball National Championship game was something of a blowout, as LSU stomped Iowa 102-85. Unfortunately, the game was marred by an extremely high number of fouls called and so much of the focus has been on the officiating rather than on the players.

One of the most noticeable fouls came at the end of the third, as Iowa’s Caitlin Clark was called for a technical when she bounced the ball out of bounds instead of to a referee.

I am not here to focus on the fouls. That has been done to death by every blog and Twitter account under the sun. The call on Clark probably should not have been called and it did not make the game better, but it was technically a correct call.

Unfortunately, this perceived injustice against a white standout superstar that many have recently come to be loved has emboldened a certain nasty group of sports fans to say how they feel about other aspects of the game. Specifically, racist “fans” of Clark’s are now coming out of the woodwork to attack LSU’s star shooting guard Angel Reese for taunting Clark during the win.

The main celebration receiving hate is the hand-over-face “you can’t see me” motion popularized by wrestler John Cena. Reese did the move to Clark after the final buzzer sounded and also pointed to her ring finger.

Inflammatory? Sure. Reese has spoken on it already, saying she felt Clark had disrespected her teammates as well as her “SEC girls” at South Carolina. If all Clark had done was play well against LSU and South Carolina then maybe this could be seen as a weak justification, but that is simply not the case.

Not only did Clark also taunt both South Carolina and LSU players, but she also did it in the exact same way.

It was a cool moment, as a dominant player celebrates her win with confidence. So was the Reese celebration, as LSU was both literal and cultural underdogs and still managed to get the big win. Taunts are fun.

Some do not seem to see it that way, particularly when Reese does it back. If you had not noticed yet, Reese is Black. She plays for a team from Louisiana, while Clark both comes from and plays in Iowa. This had led to responses that are frankly disgusting. The word “classless” trended on Twitter and some big names spoke out against Reese.

Former ESPN host Keith Olbermann, who until Sunday may have literally never cared about a woman’s basketball game, decided to pipe up with his captivating point.

Dave Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports and known bigot, decided it was his time to speak up as well.

I am glad women’s basketball is on such a big stage right now. The Championship game set record numbers of viewership and so many people are paying attention now. However, the racism issue is stronger in women’s ball than many would expect. These tweets and many like them clearly reflect that.

Portnoy’s Barstool is one of the most successful sports media enterprises of all time and we even have a “barstoolwazzu” of our own. Olbermann has been working at the highest levels of sports media for decades. These are not random voices, these are huge people in the field that are still very comfortable using this type of language against Black women.

Misogynoir (prejudice against Black women) is one of the most unrecognized forms of bigotry, often seen as simply the sum of racism and misogyny when it can be so much worse as a combination.

The contempt for Reese would not have been nearly as strong if she was white, nor if she were a man taunting another male player after the other March Madness Championship. While she still would have gotten hate from Clark’s fans for taking down the meteorically rising star, this kind of treatment is deeper than sports. Reese knows this too and had already started to receive hate when she reached the podium after the game.

“I’m too hood, I’m too ghetto. Y’all told me that all year. But when other people do it, y’all don’t say nothing. So this is for the girls that look like me,” Reese said during her postgame press conference.

We need to be better. It makes me sick that sports fans and especially sports journalists still harbor these kinds of sentiments and feel safe using this kind of language. Winning the championship should mean your mentions are filled with congratulations and highlight clips, not hate from some of the biggest names in sports.

Women’s basketball has made a big stride this season and now stands tall, finally starting to beat the constant comparisons to the men’s game. Now it is time to make it so that Black women can stand tall with their white counterparts and lead the game into a newer, better era.