In the wake of LSU’s loss in the 2024 NCAA Women’s Final Four, Angel Reese’s voice resonated beyond the basketball court. The Lady Tigers star addressed the press with a raw honesty that reverberated with the experiences of many Black women in sports today.

Reese, who led her team to a national championship in 2023, found herself thrust into the spotlight immediately after. Her every move was scrutinized and it seemed she could never catch a break. In her post-game speech, she shared the toll of her tumultuous journey since claiming victory last year.

“I’ve been through so much, I’ve seen so much. I’ve been attacked so many times, death threats, I’ve been sexualized, I’ve been threatened,” Reese confessed while fighting back tears, stating that she stood strong through it all.

Her candid revelation sheds light on the harsh reality faced by Black female athletes, who often navigate a landscape fraught with prejudice and bias. This past year, Reese and her peers endured the brunt of societal judgment, amplified by the glaring spotlight of the NCAA tournament.

Black Players Catching Strays

Reese’s post-game speech extended far beyond the confines of the basketball court. It shed light on the pervasive biases ingrained within mainstream media coverage. An example of this came in the form of a Los Angeles Times article, which cast the LSU-Iowa matchup in starkly divisive terms, framing it as a battle between ” America’s sweethearts vs. its basketball villains.”

In particular, the characterization of LSU as “basketball villains” and Iowa as “America’s sweethearts” struck a nerve. The outlet received backlash from players, coaches, and fans alike. Hailey Van Lith, a member of the LSU team, labeled the article as racist, highlighting the inherent bias that permeated its portrayal of the two teams.

The LA Times swiftly came under fire for its editorial misstep. It issued a retraction and apology for the offensive language used in the article. Ben Bolch, the author of the piece, also issued a public apology, acknowledging the harm caused by his choice of words and expressing regret for perpetuating harmful stereotypes.

The backlash against the LA Times article served as a reminder of the power and responsibility media outlets have in shaping public perception. Conversations about racial bias in sports journalism sparked once again, highlighting the need for greater diversity and sensitivity in media representation.

Angel Reese’s Support

Yet, through the noise, Reese found safety in the unwavering support of her teammates. Flau’jae Johnson and Hailey Van Lith stood in solidarity after Monday night’s game. They defended Reese against the hate she had been receiving.

“I know the real Angel Reese,” Johnson declared. “The person I see every day is a strong person, is a caring, loving person. But the crown she wears is heavy.”

Van Lith echoed Johnson’s sentiments, praising Reese’s resilience in the face of adversity.

“Y’all do not get to Angel Reese,” she proclaimed. “So you might want to throw the towel in because you’re wasting your energy.”

Although Reese and her teammates lost the high-stakes game, they were still able to walk away with unity and sisterhood. Reese’s journey is not just a personal triumph but a cry for change.

As Reese herself proclaims, “I’m unapologetically me.” She continues to pave the way for a more inclusive future where Black women in sports are celebrated, not condemned.