Social Media’s Heated Debate Over LSU’s Angel Reese & Iowa’s Caitlin Clark
The LSU Tigers women's basketball team defeated Iowa 102-85 to win their first-ever national championship title—but that's not what the internet is up in arms about.
Chances are, you showed up Sunday afternoon to get your first taste of women's college basketball this season. For most, it's probably been longer than that. That's not a diss; I'm just being honest—because other than their presence on social media (for a lot of the same things we're going to talk about today) the national championship game was the first action I've watched when it comes to LSU women's hoops this year.
The championship game between the Hawkeyes and the Tigers was everything it was hyped up to be. Speaking of hype, Iowa star Caitlin Clark was landing just about every shot she would throw up beyond the 3-point arc and LSU's Angel Reese attacked the boards and put up 15 points of her own. While Reese set the NCAA record for double-doubles and was ultimately crowned tournament MVP, it was a collective effort from the LSU women's team that got them the national championship win.
But after the game, social media got into a heated debate over hand gestures that Reese made during the game as LSU was running away with the victory.
In addition to her "ring me" hand gesture, LSU star Angel Reese flashed Clark's signature John Cena-inspired "You can't see me" wave to the Iowa sharpshooter as time winded down.
Some felt like the move was "classless"–most notably, Barstool Sports head honcho Dave Portnoy who was busy rapid tweeting while doing mental acrobatics for hours in the face of backlash after publicly calling Reese a "classless piece of sh*t."
He was quickly taken to task as the debate over the gesture (and trash talk in general) raged on.
While many agreed with Portnoy initially, their tune changed once they were made aware that Clark did this move all the time—most recently against Louisville.
Many pointed out that in addition to the Cena wave, Clark was also recently celebrated for physically waving off a South Carolina player she didn't respect enough to guard during the Final Four.
Then there were others who pointed out that some of the most passionate folks behind this debate had only shown up to college basketball just hours before the championship game was over.
Reese didn't shy away from the issue in the slightest bit, giving an unapologetic response in her post-game presser.
As a matter of fact, there were people who predicted this exact debate would take place before the firestorm erupted on social media.
And then, of course, there were the memes.
There were also many people who stood by their opinion that trash talk is a part of sports and people on the sidelines should leave it to the players to play and battle it out on the court, despite how we may feel they should behave.
Caitlin Clark was flooded with emotions after the game, but despite the noise, she hasn't made mention or acknowledged any of the gestures or trash talk from LSU. Maybe she knows it's part of the game. Maybe she's fully ready to take it knowing that she can dish it out.
Maybe we care more than she does about all of this. Either way, she's a special player and it showed on the court despite the loss.
As for why Angel Reese dished out her trash talk on Clark, the LSU star explained on ESPN after the game.
And don't expect her energy or her mood to change, regardless of our feelings.
As athletes and competitors find their place in a sports world where the game continues on social media, along with their brands and personalities that rake in the big bucks through endorsements and NIL deals, is this something we should just get used to?
Whether we like it or not, is it a part of the game that has always been there, but we now have more social commentary thanks to platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram?
Only time will tell, but something tells me that anyone waiting for Angel Reese or any other competitive athlete to change will be waiting for quite some time.