Inspiring the next generation: How should female basketball players carry themselves?

By Gabby Alfveby

As women’s college basketball blows up on various social media platforms due to the wide talent pool, younger athletes are looking up to star players more and more, raising concerns about how it’s impacting this younger audience.

Players like Caitlin Clark, Paige Bueckers, Angel Reese, JuJu Watkins and Hannah Hidalgo are growing the game of basketball more and more each day. But that kind of honor comes with various pressures, including people watching your every move.

Young players watch these stars on television or live in arenas and dream of being just like them one day, just as many of these players did when they were young. It is important for these players in the spotlight to carry themselves in a positive way.

It is okay to be competitive, but is there such a thing as too much? Can players cross that line?

The answer is yes, they can cross that line. Humbleness is important when you have people looking up to you.

No parent will want their children looking up to an athlete who acts out of character. I certainly wouldn’t want my child to follow their actions.

The attention that women’s basketball has received during this 2023-2024 season has allowed the media to cover more events.

The brawl

An incident occurred on March 10 during the matchup between women’s basketball teams, the South Carolina Gamecocks and the LSU Tigers. 

A brawl broke out on the court after Flau’jae Johnson of LSU bumped South Carolina’s Ashlyn Watkins while heading toward her bench. South Carolina 6-foot-7 senior forward Kamila Cardosa came to her teammate’s defense and pushed 5-foot-10 Johnson to the ground, leading to the ejection of six players from both teams.

This incident caused Cordosa to miss the first round of the NCAA DI March Madness Tournament. 

Yes, I understand that basketball is a competitive sport, and players are going to become physical during the game, especially under the basket or when they are trying to fight for possession of the ball. But feelings don’t need to escalate to the point that players feel the need to get in a physical fight. 

It is horrible sportsmanship, and players should respect their opponents and their skills even if they may not like them as people. Fans have been heavily following both LSU and South Carolina all season.

Young girls and boys fill the stands accompanied by their family and friends. They look up to these players, and seeing them get into physical fights on the basketball court does not set the greatest example for children. 

It is important for players to remain professional no matter how angry they may have been about the other team’s physicality or a call the ref made.

Dad always knows best

Refs make questionable calls sometimes across all sports, or maybe they aren’t always questionable, but players tend to argue based on what they perceive happened during a given possession. 

On March 23, in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Caitlin Clark and her Iowa Hawkeyes took on Holy Cross. 

Clark and her team were up by 19 points when a foul was called on the Hawkeyes with less than a minute remaining in the half. Clark immediately goes to the referees and begins arguing about the call.

The ESPN television camera panned to Clark’s father, Brent, as he yelled at her to “Stop!”

Clark has been the most popular women’s basketball player this season and has sold out many games. Children want to be her when they grow up as she has broken the all-time leading scoring record and transcended women’s basketball forever.

It does not look good to be arguing with a ref about a call, whether it was a foul or wasn’t, especially when your team is already up by 19 points and on the way to completing what was a blowup game. The final score of the game was 91-65.

Clark is a highly skilled player, which I acknowledge, but she was acting extremely immaturely in this situation. As the current most watched and followed women’s basketball player, she needs to be aware of how she chooses to carry herself on and off the court.

Every action and word that comes out of her mouth is seen. All eyes are on her, including those of children who dream of one day being just like her when they grow up.

If she wants to continue to grow the game and have people follow and admire her, then she needs to be more aware of her behaviors.

The game goes on

One of the biggest indicators of a great athlete is the ability to shake things off and continue to play.

It doesn’t matter if you turned the basketball over or shot an airball because you need to move on and hustle back down the court to get on defense. If you don’t do that, then you will make another mistake that will ultimately hurt your team on the other end.

At a young age, athletes are taught to keep their heads up and not worry about the last play because, in the end, the game still goes on.

Women’s basketball players must keep their heads up and set a good example for others.

Children learn by watching others and mimicking their role models’ actions.

As the love for women’s sports, particularly basketball, grows and more spotlights shine on these players, it is important that they carry themselves in a positive way on and off the court.

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