On Sunday, April 2, Louisiana State University (LSU) defeated The University of Iowa and won their first NCAA Women's Basketball National Championship. During the game, Iowa player Caitlin Clark singlehandedly scored 30 points, setting a record for most points scored in a women's tournament. During the game, LSU player Angel Reese did a “you cant see me” as well as pointed to her ring finger, both actions widely interpreted as being directed at Caitlin Clark. Angel Reese received a lot of criticism for these actions with many people accusing her of unsportsmanlike conduct.
The volume of this criticism has many people pointing out the hypocrisy of it. Iowa’s Caitlin Clark has been known to be a very passionate player and has built a reputation for taunting players of opposing teams. Clark herself did the same “you cant see me gesture” in a game in March. The hypocrisy many people are pointing out is the volume of criticism Angel Reese received in comparison to the criticism Caitlin Clark received. Angel Reese is receiving a large amount of press coverage criticizing this action, however when Cailin Clark did it in March, there was a large amount of people praising her for being comedic. This presents a clear double standard and many fans of Reese attribute it to race.
First Lady Jill Biden was also present at the LSU-Iowa game where the winners were anticipating an invitation to the White House afterwards. However, after LSU secured the title, Jill Biden said that she wished to invite Iowa as well because they played such a good game. This was met by further criticism, especially by Angel Reese, who said in The Guardian, ”I don’t accept the apology because you said what you said… You can't go back on certain things that you say… They can have that spotlight.” Angel Reese also commented in the New York Times, “If we were to lose, we would not be getting invited to the White House.”
Caitlin Clark has since expressed her support for LSU and harbors no hard feelings towards Reese and her actions. She expressed this by saying “We’re all competitive. We all show our emotions in a different way. You know, Angel is a tremendous, tremendous player. I have nothing but respect for her. I love her game—the way she rebounds the ball, scores the ball, is absolutely incredible. I’m a big fan of her and even the entire LSU team. They played an amazing game”. When asked about Iowa’s invitation to the White House, Clark made it clear that she believes that opportunity is for the winning team by saying, “I don’t think runners-up usually go to the White House. LSU should enjoy that moment for them. And congratulations, obviously; they deserve to go there.”
LSU has since confirmed that they would accept the invitation to the white house and Jill Biden has reportedly called Angel Reese to congratulate her on the win. Jill Biden’s spokesperson has also explained The First Ladies remark as applauding the historic game and how far women athletes have come.
By Liese Devine, Contributing Writer