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Caitlin Clark and the WNBA deserve to be treated like the professionals they are

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Caitlin Clark made her media debut as a professional basketball player, but wasn’t treated like a professional by Indianapolis Star sports columnist Gregg Doyel.
When Caitlin Clark first arrived in Indianapolis to be introduced as a member of the Indiana Fever Wednesday morning, the team rolled out the red carpet for the No. 1 overall pick in Monday night’s WNBA draft. Screaming fans greeted her. Her new head coach, Christie Sides, was fist-pumping. There were even donuts iced with Clark’s new Fever jersey. That level of pomp and circumstance is to be expected for a generational talent like Clark. 
But what wasn’t expected, and what was frankly inappropriate for a moment like this, was a journalist’s deeply cringeworthy remarks to Clark during her first Indianapolis news conference as a professional basketball player.
Gregg Doyel, a columnist for the Indianapolis Star, introduced himself and said, “Real quick I’ll do this” as he formed the shape of a heart with his hands. “You like that?” Clark stuttered back in response.
“I like that you’re here,” Doyel replied. Clark then interrupted and replied providing context for what’s become her signature gesture: “Yeah, I do that at my family after every game,” she said as she looked down from the mic.
“Well, OK, start doing it to me and we’ll get along just fine,” Doyel replied.
Clark’s facial expression said it all. Her eyes were wide and her mouth was wide open. She smiled trying to hide the shock and discomfort. Doyel finally got to his question, but the damage had been done. 
Here Clark was making her debut as a WNBA player. She was making her debut as a professional basketball player in the U.S. and she wasn’t treated like a professional. 
She was met with an incredibly unprofessional exchange that not only served as a distraction, but it took away from the rest of the presser and overshadowed Clark’s first moments in her new home.
Doyel apologized in a very awkward column hours after the press conference. “I’m devastated to realize I’m part of the problem,” he wrote in his apology. “I screwed up Wednesday during my first interaction with No. 1 overall draft pick Caitlin Clark of the Indiana Fever.”
It was about 500 words of apologizing and navel-gazing. Doyel’s mea culpa would have been much more effective if he had addressed what his exchange with Clark represents about how WNBA players have often been disregarded by journalists like him.
For so long, women’s sports, both college and professional, have been denigrated and belittled.

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