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What a Reporter’s Awkward Exchange With Caitlin Clark Shows About Sports Media

SportWhat a Reporter’s Awkward Exchange With Caitlin Clark Shows About Sports Media

Caitlin Clark was introduced to Indiana as a member of the Fever for the first time Wednesday, as the No. 1 draft pick joined with general manager Lin Dunn and coach Christie Sides to meet with media at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. The reception awaiting Clark dwarfed any crowd that has covered the Fever in recent memory, as will be the case for most of her firsts in the WNBA.

Among the credentialed media in attendance was Gregg Doyel, an award-winning columnist for The Indianapolis Star. When it was his turn to pose a question to Clark, Doyel made a heart gesture with his hands in her direction, which Clark recognized as the signal she gives her family after every game. That gesture has become associated with Clark and was featured in one of her State Farm commercials. When Clark made the association, Doyel responded, “Start doing it to me, and we’ll get along just fine.”

The reaction to Doyel’s comments was swift and unfavorable. There was near-universal agreement that what Doyel said was inappropriate, disrespectful to Clark and generally uncomfortable. The uproar was so overwhelming that Doyel felt compelled to express remorse for his remarks, writing on X, “My comment afterward was clumsy and awkward. I sincerely apologize. Please know my heart (literally and figuratively) was well-intentioned. I will do better.”

Doyel also wrote a column in The Indianapolis Star apologizing to Clark for the interaction.  

As Clark’s star moves to the WNBA, she is inadvertently shining a light on a press corps that has been pretty sparse due to a relative lack of media investment in women’s basketball. As a result, reporters who don’t have experience covering women’s sports are parachuting in to be part of the Clark phenomenon, which will result in some growing pains as they learn about women’s basketball. But that doesn’t excuse a lack of tact when it comes to dealing with WNBA athletes. The league and its teams will have to develop a more robust system when it comes to credentialing reporters as interest in the game grows, but the media itself has a responsibility to treat players with respect and professionalism. That bar wasn’t met in Indianapolis on Wednesday.

Required reading

(Photo: Ron Hoskins / Getty Images)


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