The Caitlin Clark knockdown: A Rorschach test on racism

Why the hate for Caitlin Clark?

And the disrespect.

Chennedy Carter (left) walks away from floored Caitlin Clark, as Clark’s teammate Aliyah Boston stands idly by. (Photo: WJTV)

Within a few days last week, Clark got cold-cocked by another player, who got a minor penalty until the WNBA upgraded her foul a day later and Clark learned she would not be on the U.S. women’s basketball Olympic team.

First things first: Clark got blindsided and knocked to the hardwood floor — which could have caused her serious injury. She was strongly hip-checked by opposing player Chennedy Carter, a hard foul that was buried in a Mike Sielski Inquirer column, in which he minimized the attack as a rite of initiation to the WNBA.

And there may be some truth to that.

Rookies sometimes get “welcomed” to the NBA with elbows and hip checks.

But Clark was away from the ball. The hit was hard and dirty. The elephant in the room is that Clark is white and Carter is Black. This presents a Rorschach test on racism.

Had their races been reversed, would not the “white” Carter be accused of a racist attack on the “Black” Clark?

Do I have to ask?

The answer is yes, to anyone who understands the zeitgeist of 21st Century America, which is given to digital lynch mobs running wild on X, Instagram, and Facebook. 

Most of the coverage I read about the foul ignored or downplayed the racial angle. 

This in a day when even trivial episodes are quickly ginned up to felonious racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and fat shaming.

But for Clark, as you can see in Sielski’s column, the obvious racism is downplayed or denied.

Or am I being racist to see racism? I generally require a lot of proof before I hurl the R-word.

Was racism the only thing that animated Carter?

Probably not.

There’s jealousy directed against  Clark, who became the most famous player in the WNBA the moment she signed her first pro contract. How many other WNBA players can you name?

And that fame produced commercial endorsements that probably made her the richest woman in the league.

Make that the richest heterosexual woman in a league in which lesbians are a dominant force.

A friend of mine who plays and follows basketball and basketball commentary, wonders why liberals like him were so reluctant to call an ace an ace and a spade a spade. (My cliche, not his, and yes, I am going there.) 

Can it be that in this arena — sports — Blacks are held to a different standard than are whites? 

He also wondered why Clark’s teammates let Carter get away with it. One of Clark’s teammates — 6-5, 220-pound forward Aliyah Boston — witnessed the knockdown from five feet away and did nothing. She just stood there, like a giant Sequoia.

Maybe she was scared. Carter, who refused to apologize, has been on three teams in four years and is known for fighting with her own teammates. A real charmer.

For her part, Clark shrugged it off as being part of a very competitive game. Clark’s a class act, but she knows assault is not part of the game of basketball. But she was smart enough to let this issue expire.

She showed amazing maturity for a 22-year-old, as she did with the following Olympics rejection. 

She gamely expressed no disappointment, and said she would root for the American team. Maybe she felt she had not yet paid her dues, and said she hoped to be part of it someday.

Without question, she will. All she has done so far is elevate the popularity of women’s basketball to unprecedented heights, and empowered millions of girls to think that anything is possible.

This young woman is running a clinic on sportsmanship, on how to be a role model, showing she is a champion both on and off the court.

18 thoughts on “The Caitlin Clark knockdown: A Rorschach test on racism”

  1. Thanks for having the journalistic integrity and courage to speak to this. There are clearly too many One Way Streets that are not properly marked.

  2. I recently watched a tribute to Larry Bird from years ago, at his retirement ceremony. One of the funniest comments came from another black player who was listening to the radio and heard Bird’s name over and over again as he ran wild during a college game in Indiana when Bird was playing for Indiana State. The black player said, “Man that BROTHER can play!” Then he expressed his amazement the next day when he saw Bird’s picture in the paper and learned he was white. And Bird himself commented to Charles Barkley during a game that he was being disrespected. Barkley asked him how he was being disrespected and Bird said, “They have a white guy trying to guard me!” I suppose the message in all of the preceding is that basketball is a ‘black’ sport, just as ice hockey is a ‘white’ sport. The players in both sports have to adjust to the fact someone of the opposite race has to be judged on how they play, not on their color. Caitin Clark is a champion who has decided to turn the other cheek. Good for her.

    1. Affirmative action, quota systems, etc you don’t have to be the best just black. Do you get it now.

  3. There are to many double standards when it comes to blacks in America. This country has lowered the bar for them in every way possible to achieve in society at the expense of everyone else.

    1. Your an absolute MORON. How dare you make a statement like that. This country hasn’t lowered the bar for Blacks in any way,shape or form. You’re a Trump supporter and you have the nerve to talk about the country lowering the “Bar”.

        1. I guess it takes one to know one! Your statement just like all your other statements are BS.(I’m assuming you know what BS means).

  4. I fall in a different camp, and one that leans more toward Seilski (he’s still with the Inquirer?). I think you’re seeing racism where there really is none. I don’t follow basketball in general and the WNBA, but I, like about everyone else has heard about the takedown. Anything with Caitlin Clark is news–perhaps that in itself is racism? To me, just a “Welcome to the league, rookie” message. I’ve been a follower of ice hockey since the Flyers year one in 1967. Clarke and so many others got the same treatment.

  5. It’s unbelievable what happens to Clark, and they just let it go. My wife played basketball with former pro basketball players in High School (women) they would have openly fought for team mates being treated in such ways. There should be fines, suspentions, and if it were men’s ball, I think some coaches would be fired. You have to say one thing, Caitlin Clark has Class. She knows her time will come, when all of these bullies will be has beens. Will Brittney Griner be playing for the Russians? Or have I hurt someone’s feelings?

  6. I believe this was mostly an issue of jealousy, though race certainly played a part in it. If Clark had been black, would such punishment have been doled out? I kindly doubt it. By the same token, if Clark had been black, I think the hooha over her broken records would have been less “loud” and the impact to the WNBA would have been more muted. Bottom line: whatever the reason, it was hard foul and the perpetrator should have been fined and suspended. You understand it for what it was and you move on.

  7. What we see and what we know is that Chennedy Carter committed a cheap shot flagrant foul. Is her behavior consistent with the 3 other teams she played for previously. Or was the cheap shot an exception. If it is an exception then we can surmise the behavior was because of jealousy and racism. I am not aware of enforcers playing in the WNBA. However in the 60’s& 70’s and 80’s the NBA had some notorious enforcers, think 60’s Celtics and the Pistons with Mahorn. As far as the Inquirer sports reporter his column is consistent with their continuing liberal messaging.

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