The (Male) Reporter Who Was Extremely Weird to Caitlin Clark Has Apologized

“I’m devastated to realize I’m part of the problem,” Gregg Doyel wrote after perfectly exemplifying the problem.

The (Male) Reporter Who Was Extremely Weird to Caitlin Clark Has Apologized

Wednesday marked Caitlin Clark’s first press conference since being drafted to play for the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, but the biggest story to emerge from the event has centered on the male reporter who was extremely weird to her. Less than four minutes into the press conference, Indianapolis Star sports columnist Gregg Doyel was given the mic and flashed a heart shape (a la Taylor Swift) at college basketball’s highest scorer, like the heart shape Clark has flashed at her family members attending her games.

“You like that?” Clark asked, referring to the move. “I like that you’re here,” Doyel returned. Clark then explained, “I do that at my family after every game, so it’s pretty cool.” The moment was uncomfortable enough, but Doyel dragged it on, telling Clark to “start doing it to me and we’ll get along just fine.”

The incredibly bizarre interaction understandably went viral, reflecting the lack of respect women athletes—even highly visible icons like Clark—receive, even when the whole world is watching. Some likened Doyel to a “reply guy” permitted to masquerade as a “beat reporter.” Others pointed out the “creepy,” “unprofessional,” and “misogynistic” nature of a man using his job to show up to a woman’s place of work and publicly flirt with her.

I find it pretty difficult to picture Doyel (or any other male reporter, for that matter) flashing a heart symbol at an NBA player and instructing him to reciprocate it.

By late Wednesday, in the face of substantial online backlash, Doyel offered an apology—in the form of a column for the Indianapolis Star. “I’m devastated to realize I’m part of the problem,” he wrote. Doyel said the interaction was sparked by his “haste to be clever, to be familiar and welcoming (or so I thought),” and that he’s known locally “for having awkward conversations with people before asking brashly conversational questions.” Again, I doubt his “awkward conversations” with men include public flirtation. Doyel concluded, “I now realize what I said and how I said it was wrong, wrong, wrong. I mean it was just wrong. Caitlin Clark, I’m so sorry.”

An unequivocal apology is a start. But I have to wonder if we’d be here at all if Clark weren’t a household name. The whole incident should raise questions about all the sexist bullshit that women athletes—and women in the sports industry more broadly—still face all the time. That reality was perfectly exemplified by further shit sent Clark’s way this week: Twitter harassment from NFL star Antonio Brown, which allegedly prompted her to block him.

Clark hasn’t publicly commented on the interaction with Doyel or his apology (nor any of Brown’s comments, for that matter). But it’s just a huge bummer to see a couple of dudes cloud her first days as a WNBA star.

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