Editorial: Poor, little Caitlin Clark being bullied in WNBA

Published 7:02 am Tuesday, June 4, 2024

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Poor Caitlin Clark. Poor, poor little Caitlin Clark.

It seems the college superstar basketball player (I wrote about her a couple of months ago, the female Pistol Pete) is having to go through some growing pains as she transitions to playing basketball in the WNBA.

What did you expect?

It’s the W “NBA” after all.

Basketball as most of us grew up with, were taught by coaches, no longer exists after you leave college for the NBA … or WNBA.

Yes, Caitlin Clark is the reason I watched more women’s basketball this past year than ever.

And no, Caitlin Clark will not be the reason I start watching WNBA games. The game is different, nothing like what most of us are taught. It’s more physical. It’s more about individual performances. It’s more about making money, not simply playing basketball the way it should be played.

I’m not saying that NBA and WNBA games can’t be fun to watch. But when someone stops their dribble at halfcourt on their way for a dunk and aren’t called for walking, it’s not basketball. When a player dribbling the ball holds it in his palm for what seems like seconds and isn’t called for carrying, it’s not basketball. When a defender can all but mug an offensive player with the ball and not be called for a foul, it’s not basketball.

Back to Caitlin Clark. It seems she has been putting up with some abuse – physical and mental – since her pro career started. Most of the shoves, elbows to the side and full-body hits aren’t even part of the game … or at least shouldn’t be. The other players do it just because.

Yeah, just because.

Maybe it’s just because they’re jealous. Caitlin is getting almost all of the publicity. Fans love her. They’re showing up in droves to see her play; even at away games. She’s putting butts in the seats and money into the pockets of owners. She’s a player. For most of those players making the hits against her, fans don’t even know their names; even though they were (pre-Caitlin Clark) among the best in the league.

Maybe it’s just because she gets the most valuable endorsements. Nothing can make you madder than someone getting the money you think you deserve.

Maybe it’s just because many of the players, who are Black, see a double standard in media coverage and player popularity. They wonder – no, they know – that had Caitlin Clark been Black, this phenomenom would not be happening at this level.

Maybe it’s just because they’re scared. They’re scared of being replaced. Caitlin Clark is billed as the greatest basketball player ever, which she may be. They’re scared because they think – no, they know – that Caitlin Clark will be more popular than them, that Caitlin Clark will make more money than them,  that Caitlin Clark will be remembered more than them after their playing days are done.

There are many potential reasons for Caitlin Clark’s treatment in the WNBA. It could even be on purpose. After all, controversy sells.

But if you want to watch a real basketball game, wait for the high school and college teams to start again this fall.

– Mike Barnhardt