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HomeWorldThe right’s fury over Caitlin Clark is about everything except Caitlin Clark

The right’s fury over Caitlin Clark is about everything except Caitlin Clark

WWhen it was Caitlin Clark’s turn on the receiving end of a hard foul from Angel Reese On Sunday, the noise and fury around the Indiana Fever rookie intensified again. She has been the center of a number of controversies lately.

After Clark was cut from the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team earlier this month, I raised an eyebrow myself. She is a phenomenal player and athlete and someone who should take the lion’s share of credit for the WNBA’s massive increase in popularity. But as is often the case in sports discourse, more than one thing can be true at the same time. Clark is also an inexperienced rookie, who, aside from a few standout performances (including Sunday’s win over the Chicago Sky), has had a rough start to her WNBA career – she leads the league in turnovers per game. And when it comes to adding her to the Olympic roster, the U.S. selection committee would have had to change the role of skilled guards like Diana Taurasi and Sabrina Ionescu.

Sure, a certain amount of worry was warranted. But when you look at the full picture, it’s clear why Clark was left out of the Olympic roster, and further fuss over the situation is a waste of breath. Unfortunately, however, we live in a political culture that likes to waste breath.

Politicians, pundits and fans from across the right denounced the decision. Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley went to Xjust like the official account for the GOP House Judiciary, further fueling an already chaotic conversation around Clark. ESPN’s Pat McAfee even invoked Clark’s race when arguing that she deserved more credit than the rest of the WNBA’s (mostly black) rookie class for helping popularize the sport. “No, just call it for what it is – there’s one white bitch for the Indiana team who’s a superstar,” he said (and later apologized say that way). McAfee responded to this some who argued that Clark’s whiteness is what makes her slightly more marketable than her equally talented black peers.

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And that’s not the first time the race has contributed to a charged dialogue around Clark. The optics of her mostly white Iowa team versus Reese’s mostly black LSU team in the 2024 Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament lit a fire of racial loyalty, which even prompted then-LSU star Hailey Van Lith (who is white). speak out about something. “In my opinion, I’m sure people see us differently because we have a lot of black women in our team who have an attitude and like to talk nonsense and people have an opinion about it,” said Van Lith.

But the striking thing about the battle surrounding Caitlin Clark is that she herself has done nothing to provoke the controversy. An inherently uncontroversial figure, Clark is the personification of infamous far-right pundit Laura Ingraham. “shut up and dribble” sentiment, which reflects the right’s longstanding belief that athletes — or those with whom they disagree, anyway — should keep politics out of sports. And yet it is those same people who are trying to pull Clark away from neutrality. For example, Indiana Congressman Jim Banks sent a letter to WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert asking him to discipline Chicago Sky guard Chennedy Carter for punching Clark during a game earlier this month. Like Reese’s hit on Sunday, it was a tough foul, but the idea that it had to be escalated by an elected official is as ridiculous as when Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry proposed canceling the scholarships of LSU women’s basketball players who did not attend could be deleted during the match. national anthem at the beginning of one of their games. As LSU coach Kim Mulkey explained, the players only missed the national anthem because of a pre-game routine, but no explanation will ever be good enough for conservatives who weaponize innocuous events to make a name for themselves. Republicans are experts on opposition, because that’s more or less their party’s goal: preserving or even regressing on the issues that matter most to Americans. Without any sense of progress, they have resorted to a selfish attitude that is becoming increasingly desperate.

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Clark seems to want to do little more than win basketball games, but she remains in the eye of the kind of political hurricane we’ve seen from activism-driven athletes like Megan Rapinoe and Colin Kaepernick. For example, when the two knelt during the national anthem to protest social injustice, the storm that followed was expected, even if it was unwarranted.

Clark, on the other hand, has inspired waves of bombast without actually offering much in the way of political or social views. She responded to being left out of the Olympic squad, as any self-respecting athlete would, by essentially saying she had been underestimated, and expressing her excitement at the prospect of advancing to the 2028 squad .And after taking a non-stand against people who have used her name to disparage other WNBA players in racist, misogynistic and homophobic ways, she dropped by later that day to speak out about the charged discourse. “People shouldn’t be using my name to push those agendas. It’s disappointing. It is not acceptable,” she told reporters.

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It’s clear that Clark doesn’t want anything to do other than score a bucket. And while that’s an understandable position for a 22-year-old who suddenly finds herself one of the most famous people in America, hopefully over time she’ll learn how to be a more conscious role model by understanding the power she wields. as a superstar athlete. But the fact that she has been at the center of so many conservative talking points speaks to a political climate on the right that is willing to make an issue of anything and everything.

Gone are the days when such controversies arose from actual controversies. Clark lives in a country where the Conservative party has simply switched to good faith and open-mindedness. Today, political division is spread not only by media content that is boosted to entice its audience, but also by a former president and Republican politicians who use disagreement as a means to position themselves against their voters and potential voters. But whatever they have to say about Clark should be taken just as seriously as their opinions on the Fever’s perimeter defense.

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