Caitlin Clark Is the Rightful Winner of the 2021 ESPY Award for Best College Female Athlete

Caitlin Clark Is the Rightful Winner of the 2021 ESPY Award for Best College Female Athlete

By Tamryn Spruill When Paige Bueckers accepted her 2021 ESPY Award for Best College Female Athlete, she notably dedicated the honor to Black women in sports and beyond who systematically and routinely face unprecedented levels of discrimination and erasure.  But it was Bueckers, not another female athlete, who brought the award home that night.  Even before the 2020-21 NCAA season, Bueckers had been pegged as the next big phenom to play for the storied UConn Huskies. The No. 1 overall recruit out of Hopkins, Minn., Bueckers was expected to be Breanna Stewart incarnate, only in guard form. So, with the storyline decided, ESPN as the primary leader of sports conversations, focused on Bueckers to the exclusion of all others, just as they did with Sabrina Ionescu in 2019-20.  Bueckers is an immensely talented basketball player, but she is young, unseasoned and not WNBA-ready despite last season’s chatter indicating otherwise. Beyond that, she did not dominate for the Huskies or...

Simone Biles Models Team Spirit That USA Basketball Needs to Embrace

Simone Biles Models Team Spirit That USA Basketball Needs to Embrace

By Tamryn Spruill By now, gymnast Simone Biles has received enough praise and condemnation over her withdrawal from USA Olympic Team events in Tokyo to last a lifetime. In human history, there is no stage for athletic competition greater than the Olympic Games, and Biles defied norms by bowing out, to protect her health and safety and to give her teammates a chance to win medals. Naysayers, however, call her a quitter, or say she cost other gymnasts a shot at their dreams (because gymnasts who did not qualify in the preliminary rounds are not permitted to fill in for someone who did). But in Biles’ line of work, in contrast to basketball, beach volleyball, ping pong and myriad other events, anything other than piercing focus and peak health can be a matter of life and death, or life and lifelong health challenges. Even bigger, Biles entered these Games as the lone active Olympic gymnast who survived Larry Nassar, the disgraced physician employed by USA Gymnastics who was sentenced to...

A’ja Wilson’s Self-mastery Defies Expectations Placed on Black Women and Professional Athletes

A’ja Wilson’s Self-mastery Defies Expectations Placed on Black Women and Professional Athletes

By Evan Cooper Curating a support system that holds her accountable and practicing self-discipline on and off the court, A’ja Wilson, the WNBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2020, is wise beyond her years and hungry to better herself and those around her. Before being selected as the No. 1 overall pick by the Las Vegas Aces in the 2018 WNBA Draft, Wilson blazed trails so wide at the University of South Carolina that a statue to honor her legacy was erected in January outside of Colonial Life Arena, where the Gamecocks play. In a recent sit-down interview with CBS News, Wilson discussed the great respect she has for her community, absorbing knowledge from WNBA trailblazers, understanding the value of collective effort (both professionally and politically) and investing in the younger generation. She knows the value of representation, as much as she did when she was a kid, and respects her role as an increasingly visible public figure. But her journey of self-mastery defies many of the...

2020 WNBA Jersey Sales Show Old Guard Is Finally Getting Its Due

2020 WNBA Jersey Sales Show Old Guard Is Finally Getting Its Due

By Tamryn Spruill Old guard WNBA players are finally get their due from mainstream media. But what about the younger class of women's basketball players not named Sabrina Ionescu? On Friday, the league announced before tipoff of Game 1 of the 2020 WNBA Finals that the orange WNBA logo hoodie in 2020 became the bestselling merchandise piece in the league’s history. The hoodie, popularized by the late Kobe Bryant, a fierce supporter of the league and a mentor to many of its players, is “the most popular item this season across official online retail partner Fanatics’ network of e-commerce sites, including WNBAStore.com,” according to a league statement. The signature item also has been embraced by NBA players like LeBron James and other celebrities. But when it comes to individual player jerseys, the old guard reigns supreme while younger players, with the exception of Ionescu, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft, float beneath the radar. Former No. 1 picks from recent years...