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Explaining Pat McAfee, Comments from Caitlin Clark by Stephen A. Smith


Two of ESPN’s biggest stars – Stephen A. Smith and Pat McAfee – sparked an internet frenzy after talking about the “Caitlin Clark effect.”

Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark reacts after scoring against the Seattle Storm during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Thursday, May 30, 2024, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

The media storm that has followed Caitlin Clark since April, when the former Iowa Hawkeyes basketball star was selected first overall in the 2024 WNBA draft, has become a tornado.

Clark, who was catapulted to stardom during her final season at the University of Iowa, made headlines throughout her first full month in the pros. The NCAA’s all-time leading scorer has helped bring attention to a league that has long been shut out of mainstream sports media.

The sudden flood of intrigue – primarily around Clark and his rumored “rivalries” with other players – fueled a toxic narrative, however. And on Monday, after Clark’s Indiana Fever took on the Chicago Sky in a competitive match, tensions beyond the field came to a head.

Two of ESPN’s biggest stars — Stephen A. Smith and Pat McAfee — have separately addressed the “Caitlin Clark effect,” the idea that the 22-year-old is single-handedly responsible for the new obsession with America for women’s basketball.

During a segment on McAfee’s “The Pat McAfee Show,” the host discussed Clark’s impact on the league compared to other high-profile rookies like Cameron Brink and Angel Reese.

“I wish the media would continue to say ‘this rookie class, this rookie class, this rookie class’. No, just call it for what it is, there’s a blank (expletive) for the Indiana team that’s a superstar,” McAfee said.

“Is there any chance that people just love watching her play basketball because of how electrifying she was, what she did, what she stood for, how she did what she wanted? Maybe,” McAfee continued. “But instead we have to hear people say that we only like her because she’s white, and she’s only popular. only because the rest of the rookie class does what they do.”

The confusing statement of support from McAfee (who, in fact, is one of the “media people”) caused a public outcry. His opinion, while controversial to some, was overshadowed by his poor choice of language.

The former NFL player later issued an apology to put that into the universe.”

The same day, Smith attempted to address the media’s obsession with Clark in “First Take”.

During a 40-minute segment, in which Smith and panelist Monica McNutt disagreed on the context of Chennedy Carter’s flagrant foul on Clark on Saturday night, Smith said that no one “talks anymore of the WNBA and women’s sports as “first take”. »

“Stephen A., respectfully, with your platform, you could have done this three years ago if you wanted to,” McNutt responded.

His rebuttal elicited a handful of “wow”s from Smith, and later, a minute-and-a-half-long rant on his podcast about everything he’s done to advance the careers of women journalists.

McNutt and Smith returned to the air Tuesday, apparently having improved their working relationship enough to avoid another argument on national television.

And as the Caitlin Clark media storm temporarily subsides, sports media professionals everywhere are left with an important reminder: choose your words wisely.


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