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This Outrage Over a Basketball Player’s Court Celebration Stinks of Racism

If you can't take the heat, don't watch sports!

Angel Reese holds her hand in front of her face

Right before Louisiana State University’s women’s basketball team clinched the NCAA title with the highest record of points in a women’s basketball championship game, Angel Reese sent a message to Caitlin Clark via some non-verbal trash talk: “You can’t see me.”

Using the gesture made famous by former wrestler John Cena, Reese waved her hand in front of her face before pointing to her ring finger to indicate that she and her team had won their NCAA championship rings. It was a move used by Clark herself during the previous game when Clark helped to lead the University of Iowa to the Final Four game. Clark employed Cena’s famous gesture after hitting her sixth 3-pointer of the game and made it towards her South Carolina rivals, which Cena himself took notice of in a tweet he posted after the game.

Well, I guess no one told sportscaster and professional shit-talker Keith Olbermann about this trend in sports because he responded to Reese’s gesture by calling the college athlete a “fucking idiot.”

In a follow up tweet, Olbermann doubled down on his statement saying that it doesn’t matter what “gender, sport, [or] background” you come from, the move was “mindless and classless” before asking what kind of coach Reese must have to allow her to make a gesture at another player.

Olbermann was far from the only professional sports bro to show his ass like this, by the way:

It’s painfully ironic that Olbermann et al see Reese as being “classless” when he was so out of pocket about a gesture that was basically harmless and also done by her white opponent. Olbermann seemed to have nothing to say when Clark did the gesture the previous game, but just had to run his mouth when Reese did it back to her. 

The entire incident smelled of racism and I was not the only one who caught the stench. Many people, from celebrities to athletes to other commentators, were quick to call Olbermann out on his blatant hypocrisy.

After being raked over the coals, Olbermann tried to “apologize” for being “misinformed” about the situation in a boomer-style notes app apology. He admitted that he doesn’t follow “hoops” at any level or gender and said that both Reese and Clark were “wrong” about their actions. In a spectacular display of stupidity, Olbermann decided to trade his racism for sexism in his “apology” as he ends the note by saying that “nobody will remember the LSU crown, just the fact that women’s hoops has now achieved parity with the men: its stars can be classless winners who are willing to overshadow their team’s victories.”

Putting aside the fact that a professional sportscaster calls the game of basketball “hoops,” Olbermann’s response to his harsh statement is not that surprising. His softened, but still disgusting, language when addressing Clark alongside Reese is not uncommon when it comes to acknowledging white women for doing the same action as a Black woman. In sports, and life in general, Black women are often told to not have any emotions besides happiness. We can’t cry or get angry or show frustration because it makes us look intimidating and “classless.” The response to Reese’s gesture on the court is just another example of the double standard Black women have to face every single day. She did the same thing as her white opposition and yet she’s the one being torn apart on social media.

Thankfully, Reese has been in good spirits since her team’s victory, as she should be. When speaking about this incident during a postgame with ESPN, Reese explained that she was waiting to “pick [Clark’s] pocket” by doing the gesture at her because she didn’t like the “disrespect” Clark showed to Reese’s former team of South Carolina in the previous game. Reese giddily said she was “in her bag” at the time of her doing the move and I couldn’t love that more for her. 

Congrats to Angel Reese and the entire LSU team on their victory!

(featured image: screencap from ESPN)

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Kayla Harrington (she/her) is a freelance writer who has been working in digital media since 2017, starting at Mashable before moving to BuzzFeed and now here at The Mary Sue. She specializes in Marvel (Wanda Maximoff did nothing wrong!), pop culture, and politics. When she's not writing or lurking on TikTok, you can find Kayla reading the many unread books on her shelves or forcing her friends to watch some random video she found. She's also a world class chef (according to her wife) and loves to try any recipe she can find.