E. Faye Williams: They call it basketball

Dr. E. Faye Williams

(TriceEdneyWire.com)—I am a fervent sports fan and viewing sports brings great joy to my life.  I enjoy a good NBA game or any game played by my New Orleans Saints.  I even watch professional baseball—just with a little less enthusiasm.

My viewing is not limited to professional sports nor do I exclusively view “male” sporting contests.  I have nieces who are gymnasts and whose performance in the sport suggests future greatness and acclaim.  I enjoy female sports and consider them among the vehicles which will lead to full gender equality. 

On Sunday, April 2, true sports fans were glued to their televisions watching the final game of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Louisiana State University Lady Tigers.  When competitors were finally determined, it was hyped as a thriller.  Most pundits gave the advantage to Iowa.  The Hawkeyes’ strength on the court and their regular season record was no joke.  Pundits declared the Hawkeyes’ Caitlin Clark as a collegiate ‘best.’

Jasmine Carson, a Lady Tiger never known by the title “Hero,” became one by scoring 21 points in the first half with the final points in the half coming on a buzzer-beater.  Although Jasmine only scored one point during the second half, her first-half performance put the game out of reach for Iowa.

At halftime, the Lady Tigers had a big lead, and it seemed that they would maintain that lead, but the Iowa team came back with a long scoring run.  Things got a bit tense for LSU fans before the Lady Tigers pulled away again—for good.   At the final buzzer, the Lady Tigers were victorious by the lopsided score of 102 – 85, winning their first national title.  For the first time, a women’s team broke the 100-point mark in a championship game, surpassing the previous record of 97 points. 

 Despite being a Louisiana native, I saw this as a contest between the best women’s teams in collegiate basketball.  Both teams played great games.  In my opinion, their performance exceeded that of the men in their final game the following night.  However, with few exceptions, one could have viewed this game believing that Black women were playing White women.  Sadly, whether implied or suggested some critics analyzed through those distorted lenses.

Despite being on the losing team, Iowa’s Caitlin Clark was named “Player of the Year.”  She (Clark) was even acknowledged by her opponents. Post-game, LSU’s star Angel Reese did a little ‘trash-talking’ which is certainly not unusual among men players.  Some would say that scoring 15 points, pulling down 10 rebounds, having 5 assists, and 3 steals would give her ‘bragging rights.’  This was not to be.  Her post-game trash-talking, her use of the “You Can’t See Me” gesture, made famous by WWE star John Cena, and gesturing toward her ring finger during the game was determined by some to be unnecessary taunting. 

The resulting outcry of support for Caitlin Clark was a bit disingenuous.  Those who feigned indignation at Angel Reese’s gestures failed to acknowledge the fact that Caitlin had directed the same “You Can’t See Me” gesture at an opposing player during Iowa’s game against Louisville.  Through the ‘wisdom’ and ‘generosity’ of DeSantis and others, we have learned that bringing discomfort to Whites is not permitted in contemporary US.   

Ending on a more positive note, tickets for this year’s women’s tournament have been priced far higher than the men’s games. On the secondary market, the lowest cost for a single ticket for the final women’s game was just under $400.  Some nosebleed prices for the men’s championship game were going for lower than $50 on Ticketmaster.  Who would have thought?

(Dr. E. Faye Williams is President of The Dick Gregory Society and President Emerita of the National Congress of Black Women)  


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