WOMEN + SPORTS

How Caitlin Clark Became The Great White Hope of the WNBA

Some are using the rookie player as a proxy for whiteness

Allison Wiltz
7 min readJun 10, 2024

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Image of Caitlin Clark as posted on her Instagram holding an Indiana Fever team hat

It’s no secret that White people often center themselves in American society. Even in a sport like professional basketball, where the vast majority of players are Black, they find a way to elevate their heroes as if they are inherently superior. We can see this phenomenon in the way sports commentators and fans have elevated Caitlin Clark, an Indiana Fever guard, as the “great white hope” of the WNBA. While it’s unclear whether Clark consents to her name being used in this way, with pundits constantly using her accomplishments to snub her Black counterparts, pressure is mounting for her to break her silence on the topic of race or become a proxy for racists to latch onto. While it’s refreshing to see women’s sports receive increased attention, it’s disappointing to see so much anti-blackness and misogynoir in the discourse surrounding Clark’s entrance to the court.

Clark first garnered national attention in her athletic rivalry in college while playing for Iowa, challenging Angel Reese, an LSU forward. During the 2023 NCAA National Championship Game between LSU and Iowa, Angel Reese taunted Clark with the “you can’t see me” gesture and pointed at her ring finger to celebrate…

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Allison Wiltz

Black womanist Scholar bylines @ Momentum, Oprah Daily, ZORA, GEN, EIC of Cultured #WEOC Founder allisonthedailywriter.com https://ko-fi.com/allyfromnola