Dear Belligerent Basketball Fans, Angel Reese’s Antagonism Is Not a Problem, You Are Making It the Problem

Savannah Brooks ’26

News Editor

Since the Louisiana State University Tigers won their first-ever national championship in women’s basketball on Sunday, April 2nd, it seems as though the internet is flooded with the same mobs of white people trying to discredit Angel Reese. Reese, a sophomore (although this is her third year playing) transfer from the University of Maryland, has been defending herself on Twitter left and right from barbs aimed at her by basketball specialists and everyday wannabe-pundits alike. These people claim that Caitlin Clark, the runner-up University of Iowa standout, is better than her. Reese is just “ghetto,” they say. She doesn’t have REAL skill—not like Clark, anyway. It’s not just social media, either. In one particular instance, I heard several Trinity students near me in the library refer to her as a “wannabe” and say that she isn’t on the same level as “Caitlin Clark or Paige Bueckers.” Thinking critically, what do Clark and Bueckers have that Reese doesn’t? It’s certainly not talent or skill. Reese set the single-season double-double record this year and even had a double-double in the national championship. She led her team to beat the powerhouse Iowa in the semifinals. Quite frankly, she is clearly one of the best (and certainly one of the coolest) women in the college game. There is something that white fans have to realize: You don’t have to be a white point guard to be good at basketball. 

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not discrediting Clark whatsoever. She’s a great player and is already up there with Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi as one of the greatest point guards to come through women’s college basketball, but she’s also not the messiah that white (and particularly male) basketball fans seem to think she is. It is true that she’s brought a lot more viewership to college basketball this year, but that in no way means that she is college basketball. It’s disheartening to me in particular that Gamecock great Aaliyah Boston doesn’t get as much love as Clark and Bueckers considering she led her class at South Carolina to a 129-9 record over her four years. It’s clear that this has never been about skill, as many claim. Boston is perhaps the most skilled player in the game yet sees only a fraction of the love that Clark does.

When it comes to LSU, I agree that the school isn’t the most palatable champion, but that is in no way because of Reese. New white male fans (and even white male basketball reporters) love to say that Reese is setting a bad example for young girls or that she’s “classless” (even though she does the exact same celebrations that Clark is called “cold” for). But if we want to talk about class, let’s talk about Coach Kim Mulkey. Mulkey is known for wearing a lot of very fancy and over-the-top clothing and being fiercely protective of her players—well, most of them anyway. Mulkey famously coached Britney Griner, possibly the greatest center to ever come through women’s basketball, at Baylor University. Baylor is a Christian university, and when Griner went there in the early 2010s, it was not particularly welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community. Griner is a lesbian and informed Mulkey of that fact during her recruiting process; however, during Griner’s time at Baylor, Mulkey encouraged her to stay closeted. Her reasoning, she told Griner, was that parents might not let their children be recruited by Baylor if Griner was out. Recently, when Griner was imprisoned by Russian authorities on drug smuggling charges, Mulkey refused to comment. The entire women’s basketball community as well as several prominent NBA players consistently spoke up for Griner while Mulkey told a reporter that they “won’t” be hearing her thoughts on the issue. Former Baylor player Emily Nkosi also has spoken out about Mulkey creating a homophobic culture at Baylor, saying that she knew to be “afraid” of telling Mulkey about her sexuality. So, it makes me wonder: How can so many dogpile on Reese for a taunting move in a sport known for taunting while Mulkey is so openly hateful towards her own players? Mulkey’s reasoning isn’t even sound. Baylor was one of the most successful programs in the country when Griner was playing, winning a national championship in her junior year. Generally, winning a national championship isn’t a huge turn-away for potential recruits. Mulkey is far more problematic than Reese has ever been.

Also, recall that the people who really know basketball are completely behind Reese. On Twitter, after podcaster Keith Olbermann called Reese “a f***ing idiot” for doing the “you can’t see me” taunt as well as pointing to her ring finger towards Clark, Shaquille O’Neal, who is generally regarded as one of the greatest centers of all time, replied, “shut your dumb a** up leave angel reese alone.” This is advice we should all be following! Even Clark spoke out in support of Reese (although it took her a few days), saying that “she should never be criticized for what she did.” As much as I love that women’s basketball is getting more support, it’s painfully obvious that the increased amount of (mostly white) men watching may be causing more harm than good. The women who have made up the fanbase until now have spent so much energy on defending female players that they have no energy left to turn around and call them names. What’s the deal with that, anyway? Why do so many men hate good players in sports that they love? Sure, I’m not going to kiss Aaron Judge on the mouth because I’m an Orioles fan and naturally hate the Yankees, but I respect the guy immensely because he can hit the ball a long way. I understand not liking someone like Kyrie Irving who can’t seem to keep his mouth shut about sensitive subjects, but I constantly hear men say they hate Lebron James or, now, Angel Reese because they’re cocky. Well, you must hate a lot of people, because most of us would be cocky if we were that good at basketball!

All of this hate surrounding Reese is indicative of larger patriarchal structures of racism, classicism, and sexism. I encourage any of you who have found yourself disliking or discrediting Reese since the National Championship to take a deeper look inside yourself. Do you hate Clark, too? You’d better, but if you do, you probably just have an extremely firm stance on taunting in sports and you must hate almost every basketball player ever, which I have trouble believing. The bottom line is yes, to watch women’s sports, but please don’t bring your bigoted tendencies into it! Angel Reese deserves better, Black women deserve better, and the little Black girls watching them need to be able to see themselves celebrated the same way little white girls do every day.  

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