LSU’s dominant performance against Iowa on Sunday afternoon in the 2023 NCAA Women’s National Championship Game was the most viewed women’s title game in history, peaking at over 12.3 million viewers with an average of 9.9 million.
It was an unmitigated success for women’s basketball, as LSU and Iowa both brought plenty of storylines into the game having beaten top seeds Virginia Tech and South Carolina in the semifinals on Friday. Stars Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese were the headliners, but it was LSU that saw others step into starring roles as Jasmine Carson, Alexis Morris, and LaDazhia Williams all topped 20 points in the game to lead an incredible LSU scoring performance to win the school’s first women’s basketball national title.
After the game, much of the conversation was about Reese’s trash talk to Clark, as she returned the “You Can’t See Me” gesture Clark had used during the tournament to the Iowa star, and just generally delighted in sending Clark home without a ring. That saw some get upset at Reese, calling her classless and defending Clark (who never asked for that to happen), which then became plenty coming to Reese’s defense and calling out the double standard applied to Black players showing emotion compared to white players like Clark, who isn’t shy about dishing out trash talk herself.
The First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, is now apparently stepping into some murky waters and only exacerbating the issues following the public reaction to LSU, a team with almost entirely Black players, beating an Iowa team that’s almost entirely white. Biden said at an event on Monday, via the AP, she’ll encourage president Joe Biden to not only extend the traditional invite to the champions from LSU, but also Iowa “because they played such a good game.”
“I know we’ll have the champions come to the White House, we always do. So, we hope LSU will come,” she said. “But, you know, I’m going to tell Joe I think Iowa should come, too, because they played such a good game.”
This statement unsurprisingly didn’t go over well with many, including Reese who made her thoughts on it known on Twitter.
I can’t blame Reese, who has spent the last 24 hours as the center of controversy for enjoying her national championship win. While she’s welcomed the spotlight and celebrated accordingly on social media, this is fairly absurd and isn’t something you’d ever see in another sport. While I don’t think there’s malice in the sentiment from the First Lady, it’s just not something you can do in the world of sports and, if anything, feels patronizing to Iowa and disrespectful to LSU, even if unintended. That it’s extending an invite to the team that’s mostly white for trying hard and doing their best only further creates an optics issue.