NCAA Uses Racially-Biased Image of Aliyah Boston in Naismith POY Voting Graphic

NCAA Uses Racially-Biased Image of Aliyah Boston in Naismith POY Voting Graphic

By Tamryn Spruill When NCAA Women's Basketball announced on Tuesday that fan voting had opened for the Naismith Player of the Year Award, one image of the four finalists did not look like the others. At the top left of the graphic, Elizabeth Kitley of Virginia Tech is featured in the act of shooting and Caitlin Clark of Iowa (top right) is depicted raising a celebratory arm. But the bottom half of the graphic goes disturbingly awry in its presentation of the remaining two finalists, with one of those images sparking accusations of racial bias. The Naismith trophy rewards game-time achievements, but the NCAA saw fit to showcase Maddy Siegrist of Villanova (bottom left) in an ambiguous state: wearing what appears to be a long-sleeved t-shirt and performing a warmup drill. If this not an image from warmups, then the onus was on the NCAA's media team to find one more befitting of Siegrist's basketball acumen, which led to her candidacy for this award in the first place. By portraying...

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...