Demonizing Angel

“Demonizing Angel”

The Louisiana State University Tigers were celebrating a monumental occasion on April 2nd, as they won their first NCAA Championship in women’s basketball. However, the facts that this year’s women’s championship game set TV records & that LSU won were overshadowed by an incident involving (LSU forward) Angel Reese. Near the end of the game, Angel was mocking (Iowa Hawkeyes point guard) Caitlin Clark by doing the “You Can’t See Me” hand wave (originated by former G-Unit rapper Tony Yayo, but popularized by WWE wrestler turned actor John Cena). After the game, many people called Angel “classless”.  However, many people (including Caitlin, who did the same gesture in Iowa’s Elite 8 victory over the Louisville Cardinals) defended Angel’s actions.
Now, while many people went toward the race aspect of Caitlin’s incident compared to Angel’s, I’m going to look at the gender perspective of this. We have seen Terrell Owens with touchdown celebrations in the NFL, Muhammad Ali with his interviews & performances in boxing, Ric Flair in pro wrestling, and Conor McGregor with his showmanship in UFC. Sure, there were people who didn’t like their celebratory demeanor, but there were also people who found it entertaining. Yet, when we see the same thing from Angel Reese, or saw people like Megan Rapinoe & Alex Morgan celebrate in soccer, Ronda Rousey display showmanship in UFC, or (to a lesser extent than her legendary father) Charlotte Flair in WWE, some people are quick to criticize women for doing something men have done. Yet, the irony is that those same people would call those women boring if they didn’t display some celebratory attitude. Case in point, when Laila Ali really found her groove, she started to do what made her father a legend. People were calling her arrogant & overconfident, but just like Muhammad, Laila backed up the Ali bravado. Angel may have gotten called out for her bravado, but she backed it up by earning the honor of being Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament.
Yes, she walks around with a tiara. Yes, she calls herself “The Bayou Barbie”. Yes, she may act “ghetto” or “hood”. However, when she steps onto the court, there is one thing that critics of Angel Reese can’t dispute…she is a champion. When it’s go time, she usually delivers. We usually associate a saying when it comes to men’s sports. “If you don’t want them celebrating, then make sure they don’t win.” Angel Reese kind of paraphrased that saying, near the end of that championship game in Dallas. “If you don’t want me to use your celebration against you, then make sure you celebrate when the championship is on the line.”

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