Mary McNamara’s column on the criticism of LSU women’s basketball star Angel Reese [“Trash-talking is just what’s needed in women’s sports,” April 4], who came under fire for taunting Iowa rival Caitlin Clark in Sunday’s championship game, inspired a fervent response from Times readers. Here is a sample of their letters debating what constitutes appropriate behavior in women’s (or all) sports.
Kudos to Mary McNamara for her piece about Sunday’s NCAA Women’s Final Four championship game. Her reporting on the game itself was excellent. More important, her discussion regarding the disrespectful and unprofessional debate that occurred on social media, broadcast and print news and regarding Angel Reese’s conduct was spot-on.
Shame on David Axelrod, Danny Kanell, Keith Olbermann, David Portnoy and others who called Reese out, admonishing her for her behavior.
At least Olbermann had the courage to later apologize but David Axelrod? Double shame on you.
Praise to Coach Dawn Staley for her comments about her team (before the game), to Angel Reese for her comments at Sunday’s after-game presser and to Caitlin Clark for defending Reese, saying she should not be criticized for a gesture she and others have used.
And, always, thanks to McNamara.
Once again Mary McNamara has tackled a topic that hits home with women. This time it’s sports. She expressed what many of us have experienced in our years of watching our kids play the game of basketball.
I remember serving as a substitute interpreter at a high school game in the 1980s where my son was the only deaf player. In a team huddle his coach chastised his players, saying, “You guys are playing like girls!”
As soon as I signed the coach’s exact words, my son had a horrified look on his face. He knew how that comment hit me.
Especially since I always told him that I thought Cheryl Miller was a better player than her brother Reggie, an NBA all-star.
Male sportscasters have always expressed a double standard. Some male athletes have gotten away with unsportsmanlike conduct, sometimes even been applauded for it.
Corona del Mar
Contrary to what Mary McNamara thinks, many of us who watched the excellent NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments were not doing so to see trash-talking.
As coach Paul Brown once said about end-zone celebrations, “Act like you’ve been there before.”
The tiresome chest-beating and other such displays only take away from the marvel of athletic excellence, and athletes of all colors and genders should remember, “When they go low, we go high.”
There’s a reason certain athletes are revered for their demeanor on and off the courts and fields of play, and it’s not because they indulge in self-serving boorish behavior.
Alexa Smith Maxwell
I’m 70 years old and I’ve played sports all my life — high school, college and ever since. I still like to shoot hoops. I can proudly say that I have never “trash talked” anyone in my life. Never needed to; never felt the urge. My game did all the talking that was needed.
Taunting a losing opponent is crass and unnecessary and there’s no place for it in sports, men’s or women’s.
Wow, Mary McNamara actually sees progress and parity in the cringy, unsportsmanlike behavior during the women’s Final Four.
For the record, when the men act out, that’s vile and cringy too.
How about the high road for once?
La Cañada Flintridge
Note: Erskine is a former Times columnist.