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LSU’s NCAAW Basketball Championship Overshadowed by Resse/Clark Controversy

LSU women’s basketball championship win over Iowa, this past Sunday, was slightly overshadowed by a conversation about sportsmanship and racial double standards.  

In the championship game between LSU and Iowa, LSU’s Angel Reese faced down Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, as LSU ran headlong into a 102-85 victory, and used a gesture popularized by WWE pro wrestler, John Cena.  The gesture in question is a wave of the hand in front of the face, known as the “you can’t see me” gesture.  Essentially, it’s a signature taunt/victory pose.  Iowa’s Clark seemed distracted and unaware of Resse’s gesture until after the game that cemented LSU in history.  However, mainstream media and social media were far from aloof.  

Opinion was split on the sportsmanship of the gesture, with some notable sports analysts being full-throated in their condemnation, with the likes of former ESPN host Keith Olbermann calling Reese an “idiot” for the gesture; and another notable sports journalist calling Resse “classless”.  

Meanwhile, others were quick to point out that Reese was only making a reference to Caitlin Clark’s own usage of the “you can see me” gesture, during an Elite Eight game last week.  The gesture also got the attention of pro wrestler/actor John Cena, who praised Clark’s usage of the gesture.  Clark also made other controversial remarks during last week’s elite eight-game, including saying to an opponent, “ You’re down by 15 points.  Shut up.”

Yet, Clark’s words and behavior were seen as a sign of brash confidence.

Many on social media questioned the motive behind the double standard. Some saw the differences in reaction as pointing to a larger racial narrative, in which Caitlin Clark, who is a young Caucasian woman, can act poorly and with impunity; but Angel Reese, who is a young black woman, is seen as aggressive or tied to several derogatory stereotypes around the black community.  

In reference to her perception both on and off the court, Resse had this to say at the post-game interview: “All year, I was critiqued for who I was. I don’t fit the narrative…I don’t fit the box that y’all want me to be in. I’m too hood. I’m too ghetto. Y’all told me that all year. But when other people do it, and y’all don’t say nothing…So this is for the girls that look like me. For those that want to speak up for what they believe in. It’s unapologetically you.”

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