NCAAW Hand Gesture Sparks Racial Debate


Credit: Twitter

Social media was buzzing thanks to Angel Reese’s trash talk against college basketball superstar Caitlin Clark.
The Caitlin Clark-led Iowa Hawkeyes’ thrilling March Madness run came to an end at the hands of a LSU team who seemingly couldn’t miss from outside the arc. The game averaged 9.9 million viewers on ABC, yet it was even more popular on Twitter, with fans and haters alike sharing thoughts. The game went viral after LSU’s Angel Reese made it a point to trash talk Clark.
The incident occurred with approximately 30 seconds left in the game with LSU up 17. With the game well in hand, Reese chased Clark off the court gesturing “ring me” and mocking Clark’s use of former wrestler and actor John Cena’s “you can’t see me” celebration, which Clark had used throughout the tournament. Reese’s actions caused a social media buzz that cast a shadow over a great finale to a great women’s tournament.
Many fans took exception to Reese’s taunting because they believed her actions were not sportsmanlike.
Erin Davey, who was a fan of Reese’s celebrations throughout the tournament, thought Reese took it too far at the end of the game against Iowa.
“Personally, I don’t like what Reese did at the end of the game, which I believe is an important part of this argument,” Davey, Assistant Dean of Students, said. “Her other gestures including the finger licking gesture against Tennessee after the bucket and foul? Fantastic. Showed confidence and fire. The ‘you’re too small for me’ gesture after a bucket vs. VT? Commonplace for basketball, I ate it up.”
This issue picked up steam on social media when, on Twitter, Dave Portnoy, the founder of Barstool Sports, started the #Classless buzz.
The controversy was again elevated on social media when a side-by-side of Clark and Reese making the same gesture went around. Reese’s defenders argued attacks on her were racist, as people had not been mad at Clark when she made the “you can’t see me” gesture. Many, however, were quick to point out that Clark made the short gesture to her own bench, while Reese made it a point to follow Clark around and taunt her.
Davey is not a fan of the comparison between Clark and Reese’s celebrations. What they did, Davey said, were two very separate things.
“It wasn’t until the media put their gestures side-by-side, swaying the argument one way or another, that people started to make their case and claim.”
The side-by-side comparison of the two superstar’s gestures caused some fans online to defend Reese, arguing her critics were looking differently at her because of her race. As Davey argues, however, the two celebrations are not fit for comparison because of the different nature in which they happened throughout the games.
Senior Louisa Coughlin thinks that fans are simply bitter to have seen Clark’s Iowa lose in the championship.
“I feel like because Caitlin Clark lost and was so beloved they are trying to find something to blame,” the three-sport captain said. “They are taking that moment because it is showboating. Whether or not she did that, it didn’t change the outcome of the game.”
On a more positive note, the Women’s National Championship was considered a huge win for women’s basketball. The game peaked at a total of 12.6 million fans watching on ABC. This represented an uptick in viewers by north of 100% relative to last year’s national championship.
Junior Camille Armaganian, a three-sport varsity athlete, was excited to see so many eyes on women’s sports.
“I think it was a big movement in women’s sports, as they don’t tend to bring in a lot of views,” said Camille. “So having a game as big as this just shows that more people are taking women’s sports seriously and enjoying watching them.”