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Caitlin Clark’s Indiana Fever conference is overshadowed by an awkward conversation with the reporter



Caitlin Clark's Indiana Fever conference is overshadowed by an awkward conversation with the reporter

Caitlin Clark got her first taste of Indiana as a member of the Fever on Wednesday, when the No. 1 draft pick met with the media at Gainbridge Fieldhouse along with general manager Lin Dunn and coach Christie Sides. The reception that awaited Clark dwarfed the crowds that have covered the Fever in recent history, as will be the case for most of her firsts in the WNBA.

Media in attendance included Gregg Doyel, an award-winning columnist for The Indianapolis Star. When it was his turn to ask Clark a question, Doyel made a heart gesture in her direction with his hands, which Clark recognized as the signal she gives her family after every game. That gesture is 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 response to Doyel’s comments was swift and unfavorable. There was virtually 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 regret for his comments. write on X“My comment afterwards was clumsy and uncomfortable. My sincere apologies. Please know that my heart (literally and figuratively) meant well. I will do better.”

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

As Clark’s star moves to the WNBA, she inadvertently shines a light on a press corps that is quite sparse due to a relative lack of media investment in women’s basketball. As a result, reporters who have no experience covering women’s sports are jumping in to be part of the Clark phenomenon, which will result in some growing pains as they learn more 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 need to develop a more robust system when it comes to legitimizing reporters as interest in the game grows, but the media itself has a responsibility to treat players with respect and professionalism. That bar was not met on Wednesday in Indianapolis.

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(Photo: Ron Hoskins/Getty Images)