New York Magazine Writer Says ‘It’s Good That Caitlin Clark Is Getting Pushed Around in the WNBA’

A writer for New York Magazine is celebrating the physical and verbal abuse that is being inflicted on WNBA star Caitlin Clark and insists that the daily stream of attacks is “good” for both Clark and the league.

Columnist Will Leitch uncorked a 1,500-word oped Tuesday insisting that the Women’s National Basketball League needs more attacks on the Iowa-born Clark and, in his headline, proclaimed, “Caitlin Clark Is Getting Pushed Around in the WNBA. Good.”

(L-R) Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever and Kayla Thornton #5 of the New York Liberty fight for control of the ball during the first half at Barclays Center on June 02, 2024 in New York City. (Luke Hales/Getty Images)

Leitch see-saws between two camps, the one that hates Clark and revels in her being beaten up, spat upon, and demeaned at every turn — a group he calls the “purists” — and those who are somewhat new to the WNBA as fans, or at least newly excited, all because Clark is playing — this group he calls the “casuals.”

He spends half his op-ed excusing the “purists” for being excited by Clark’s abuse because they insist she has to learn the ropes, and anyone who complains about how she is treated is a weeny who doesn’t like a competitive spirit. As to the “casuals,” he is glad they are new fans, but he dismisses them as nothing more than latecomers who should shut up and accept that so many players and sports writers hate Clark.

Oddly, he does not waste any time trying to explain why the “purists” and his fellow sports geeks hate Clark. He completely ignores the fact that Clark is white and heterosexual as if it plays no part at all and doesn’t even try to explain why Clark is the target of such monumental physical and verbal abuse.

So, why doesn’t the abuse matter? As far as Leitch is concerned, it doesn’t matter because Clark has not publicly said anything about it. “It’s also a reminder that these conversations tend to omit one person: Clark,” he exclaimed.

The player herself, unlike her defenders, has not complained about being singled out or how difficult the transition to the WNBA has been for both her and her team. She has focused on the only thing that she can control: how to get better as she transitions into her new league. That is, after all, what the great ones do: They shut out the noise and work on being great.

But here is the thing: Clark is in a no-win situation on this level. All the people who hate her, people such as Jemele Hill, Chennedy Carter, Angel Reese, and apparently Leitch himself, attack her, call her names, say she’s weak, dismiss her extraordinary abilities as merely a result of “privilege,” and say she deserves her abuse. But were she to open her mouth to refute all this and to complain about her treatment, these same haters would be even more abusive and would pile on top of their current abusive name-calling by adding that she is a “whiner,” a “complainer,” and a “baby.” You all know this is true.

Caitlin Clark of the Indiana Fever dribbles the ball against the New York Liberty during the second half at Barclays Center on June 02, 2024 in New...

Caitlin Clark, #22 of the Indiana Fever, dribbles the ball against the New York Liberty during the second half at Barclays Center on June 02, 2024, in New York City. (Luke Hales/Getty Images)

Clark has little choice but to grin, bear it, and keep playing to prove the haters wrong with her excellence.

Leitch, though, is excusing the attacks. He says that because Clark is “expected to be a generational talent,” it is perfectly acceptable and natural for her haters and rivals to subject her to a policy of “beat them up.” Indeed, Leitch claims that beating her up on the boards is a great thing because “Pushing Clark is really a way of showing respect for her game.”

His position on this might be akin to saying something like, “Don’t mind that bullet hole in your head, Mr. Lincoln. It’s just that Mr. Booth was showing you his respect for your game.”

But wait, there’s more. Leitch ends his piece by blaming you if you are one of those who think fair play and sportsmanship are desirable in sports. He seems to feel that is a sign of weakness and that your support for Caitlin Clark marks you as the real villain.

“In the end, acting as if this treatment of Clark stems merely from jealousy or personal pique is a way of telling on yourself: It shows you consider the WNBA less a real basketball league and more a Caitlin Clark delivery device,” Leitch scolds his readers adding that you aren’t a real fan if you want Clark to be less put-upon.

“The quality of play in the WNBA has been terrific for years. With the addition of Clark (and Reese and many others from a loaded draft class), it’s even better. But if you want to watch Clark score as easily as she did at Iowa, well, you’re not really much of a WNBA fan, are you?” he added accusatorially.

“And if you think Clark should get special treatment, you reveal a lack of respect not only for the league but for Clark herself. She’s great because she is a fierce, relentless competitor — that is, after all, the only way to be great,” he bellows.

He ends by saying that being physically assaulted is good because “eventually, both she and the league will be elevated because of it.”

But the fact is, literally no one wants Clark to get “special treatment.” Not being punched, pushed to the floor, called a “bitch,” and said to have “privilege” just because she is drawing breath is not enjoying “special treatment.” Being allowed to play her best without physical assault is not only being afforded respect for her ability, but is just being afforded common human decency.

Sadly, to people like Jemele Hill and Will Leitch, the white, heterosexual Caitlin Clark deserves to be “beat up” simply because she exists. Anyone who disagrees should just shut up, and their opinion should not matter because they aren’t “real” basketball fans. It really is just that simple.

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