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Caitlin Clark the focus of talks about race, double standards in sports


For most of the past two years, Caitlin Clark He was the center of the college basketball world.

Now, Clark, like NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird 45 years ago, is a focus of discussions about race and politics. Her transition to professional basketball. Although Clarke hasn’t said anything that feeds into the black-and-white narrative surrounding her meteoric rise, there’s talk of a double standard.

“I think it’s a huge thing. “I think a lot of people would say it’s not black and white, but it is for me,” Las Vegas Aces star Aja Wilson said when asked about the race component of Clarke’s popularity and before her recent appearance She signed two major endorsement deals. “It’s really because you can be classy as a black woman, but maybe that’s something people don’t want to see.

“They don’t see it as marketable, so it doesn’t matter how hard I work. It doesn’t matter what we all do as black women, we still get swept under the rug. That’s why it boils my blood when people say it’s not about race because it is.”

Let’s be clear, Clark is a skilled hard court player from Iowa. Byrd was an accomplished hard court scholar from Indiana. Like Bird, Clarke captivated fans and brought unparalleled attention to women’s basketball with her ability to score from every corner of the court.

Neither Bird nor Clark were the first white male or female professional basketball players. Jerry West is the NBA’s de facto logo and before Clark, the long list of talented white WNBA players included Sue Bird and Brianna Stewart.

But the level of sports can be raised through intense competition, especially when it comes to race.

Clark’s rise has come with a swagger on the court that made her TV-worthy as she led the Hawkeyes to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances. When Bird led the Sycamores to the title game in 1979, he faced Magic Johnson in one of the most-watched games in NCAA Tournament history.

In Iowa, Clark The on-court competitor in the NCAA Tournament was former LSU star Angel Reese. She then faced women’s juggernaut South Carolina and coach Dawn Staley. The matches created the kind of social media moments that captivated audiences, regardless of gender.

The matches also led to ongoing discussions about how race plays a role in the treatment given to Clark, a white woman from the “heartland of America,” compared to her black counterparts like Reese.

Clark said she and Reese are just part of a larger movement.

“I would say that Angel and I have always been great competitors,” Clark said before Iowa’s Elite Eight matchup with Reese and LSU in March. “I think Angel would say the same thing, like we’re not alone in women’s basketball. That’s not the only competitive thing about the level of our game, that’s what makes it so good. We need a lot of people to be really good.”

However, the race-based controversy over perceived slights to black players or favoritism toward Clark is not going away Choice No. 1 The WNBA draft prepares for its first regular-season game Tuesday night when Indiana takes on Connecticut.

“I think new fans, or maybe fans returning to women’s college basketball, are drawn in. Partly because of Clark. But it’s also a football game,” said Victoria Jackson, a sports historian and associate professor of history at Arizona State University. “You know, because of the rivalry between LSU and Iowa.”

“There are basketball reasons, but there are also racial reasons why Clark was able to catapult into a completely different stratosphere than the players before her,” Jackson said.

Due to a perceived double standard, almost everything about Clark is called into question:

-It was Clark’s first preseason game FlowingBut Reese wasn’t like that.

-Clark gets an endorsement deal. Other black stars not so much.

—If Reese Trash talks, is viewed as unathletic. If Clark does that, she’ll be able to compete.

– Reese received some backlash for going to the Met Gala before the match. Raise questions Would there have been the same kind of scrutiny if Clarke had graced the red carpet?

Wilson, who signed with Gatorade last week and announced Saturday that she will receive Nike’s signature shoe, and others have cited how companies are required to work with Clark as an example of the disparity in how players are treated.

Clarke’s deal with Nike will reportedly pay her $28 million over eight years, making it the richest sponsorship contract for a women’s basketball player, and includes a signature shoe. Before Wilson’s announcement on Saturday, the only other active female players in the WNBA to wear the signature shoe were Elena Delle Donne, Sabrina Ionescu and Stewart — all of whom are white.

Perception extends beyond endorsement.

While Clark’s preseason debut was available on the WNBA League Pass streaming app, which is published on the WNBA’s X platform It is incorrectly stated that all gamesincluding the debut of Reese and fellow former South Carolina rookie Camila Cardoso for the Chicago Sky, will also be available.

Therefore, a Fan in attendance On Sky’s game was broadcast live. It received more than 620 thousand views.

in Explanation Post Apology Why wasn’t the Sky game available Also, the WNBA said Clark’s game was available as part of a limited free preview of its streaming app.

There were also racist components to how Clark was treated on social media compared to others, most notably Reese.

Reese, who has previously spoken out about the vitriol she received online, recently came under fire again after she missed preseason workouts to attend the Met Gala. Clark has also been the target of online criticism, but apparently not to the extent that Reese was.

Online hate speech accounts for approximately 1% of all social media posts in the context of sports, according to Daniel Kelvington, course director of Media and Cultural Studies at Leeds Beckett University in Leeds, England.

Kelvington, whose work with the Tackling Online Hate in Football research group looked at the issue through the sport of football, said: “Although this may seem very low, think about the volume of online traffic and the number of posts that are made each year. day”. “So 1% is 1% too high because athletes are the primary targets of hate speech, harassment and death threats just for playing a game they love.”

But as Clark’s popularity grows, so will the discussion. Jackson believes this is the time to have discussions about this topic openly.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve read and heard it described as a generational talent,” the Arizona State University professor said. “And whenever we bring up these issues, I immediately think, ‘Okay, who are the other generational talents that we have?’ And I think that a lot of times athletes can be put in that category who were Black women and didn’t get that kind of outpouring of attention. Especially that kind of General audience, Kaitlyn Clarke’s crossover saturation.

“There are overlapping and intersecting reasons as to why that is. But I think we can’t afford not to think about it if the goal here is to get fair treatment for athletes in this sport.

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AP Sports Writer Mark Anderson and AP reporter Corey Williams contributed.

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National Basketball Association: https://apnews.com/hub/wnba-basketball





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