WNBA Trash Talking Is Good, Actually

WHN | Jun 12, 2024

Opinion: The discourse around Dijonai Carrington’s reaction to Caitlin Clark is out of control. Pickup basketball is by far the…

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Opinion: The discourse around Dijonai Carrington’s reaction to Caitlin Clark is out of control.

Pickup basketball is by far the most universal form of basketball. It’s played at parks, at chain gyms, and even on playgrounds at school. I’ve played pickup hoops in New York, Los Angeles, New Hampshire, Washington DC, Florida, Arizona, and probably a few places in between. One thing that is just as universal as pickup hoops is trash talking. 

It’s a fun part of the game and can be something as sly as a check or aggressive enough to make you deeply uncomfortable. I’ve left gyms for excessive trash talking before, typically from men, who get very aggravated when a woman is playing… 

That being said, it’s part of hoops at any level. 

Commentators and internet trolls have become increasingly critical of trash talking in the women’s game. Starting with Angel Reese in her college career, internet trolls hurled insults at her for throwing a few basic digs at her opponents on the court. 

What started as basic trash talking, which is incredibly common in the men’s game, has become a viral sensation that has brought out the absolute worst parts of the internet. 

Earlier this week, Dijonai Carrington mocked Caitlin Clark after Clark’s notorious overacting resulted in a foul call. What followed was an onslaught of incredibly inappropriate comments from influencers and public figures who appear to have no knowledge of basketball whatsoever. 

In these cases, it’s hard to tell what is going on here. Are these influencers misogynistic, racist, or just ignorant with no concept of basketball whatsoever?

When men trash talk on the court, it’s celebrated as a sign of competitiveness and mental toughness. Michael Jordan, one of the greatest players of all time, was notorious for his trash talk. It added to his legend, painted him as a fierce competitor who would do anything to win.

Why is it that when women engage in the same behavior, they are subjected to such vitriol?

This issue isn’t just about basketball; it’s a reflection of broader societal attitudes. Women, especially women of color, are often held to unfair standards that demand they be deferential and subdued. When they break these unwritten rules, they are met with outrage and hostility.

It’s also worth noting the resilience of these athletes. Despite the backlash, players like Angel Reese and Dijonai Carrington continue to play their game, undeterred. They are role models, not just for their skill on the court but for their strength in the face of unwarranted criticism.

Trash talking is a natural, accepted, and even celebrated part of basketball. It’s a tool used to gain a mental edge and throw opponents off their game.

To criticize women for engaging in it, while praising men for the same, is hypocritical and indicative of the decay of online culture around women’s sports. 

Stifling this aspect of the women’s games hypocritical and undermines the competitiveness and spirit of the sport. Let the women play, let them compete, and let them talk trash. It’s part of the game, and it’s here to stay.

Eve Bailey is a contributor to WHN and  the CEO of PRESS PR, a public relations agency for athletes and startups.

Pickup basketball is by far the most universal form of basketball. It’s played at parks, at chain gyms, and even on playgrounds at school. I’ve played pickup hoops in New York, Los Angeles, New Hampshire, Washington DC, Florida, Arizona, and probably a few places in between. One thing that is just as universal as pickup hoops is trash talking. 

It’s a fun part of the game and can be something as sly as a check or aggressive enough to make you deeply uncomfortable. I’ve left gyms for excessive trash talking before, typically from men, who get very aggravated when a woman is playing… 

That being said, it’s part of hoops at any level. 

Commentators and internet trolls have become increasingly critical of trash talking in the women’s game. Starting with Angel Reese in her college career, internet trolls hurled insults at her for throwing a few basic digs at her opponents on the court. 

What started as basic trash talking, which is incredibly common in the men’s game, has become a viral sensation that has brought out the absolute worst parts of the internet. 

Eve Bailey is a contributor to WHN and  the CEO of PRESS PR, a public relations agency for athletes and startups.

The views of this author are not necessarily the views of WHN. If you are interested in submitting an opinion piece, please fill out this form on our site.

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