LSU's Mulkey Defends Team, Sparks Discourse Around Media's Treatment of Young Athletes

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The score may have been settled on the court Monday between the LSU and Iowa women's basketball teams during an Elite 8 matchup, but the dialogue around how players are treated on and off the court continues this week. 

Prior to the game, LSU coach Kim Mulkey defended her team in light of a Los Angeles Times column by reporter Ben Bolch, who called LSU women's basketball players "dirty debutantes" and described the UCLA-LSU matchup as "good versus evil." 

“How dare people attack kids like that?” Mulkey asked during a press conference. “You don't have to like the way we play. You don't have to like the way we trash talk. You don't have to like any of that. We're good with that.

“But I can't sit up here as a mother and a grandmother and a leader of young people and allow somebody to say that.

“I'm in the last third of my career, but I'm not going to let sexism continue. And if you don't think that's sexism, then you're in denial,” Mulkey said.

Bolch publicly apologized for how he referred to LSU, saying in a post on X, "Words matter. As a journalist, no one should know this more than me. Yet I have failed miserably in my choice of words. In my column previewing the LSU-UCLA women's basketball game, I tried to be clever in my phrasing about one team's attitude, using alliteration while not understanding the deeply offensive connotation or associations. I also used metaphors that were not appropriate. Our society has had to deal with so many layers of misogyny, racism and negativity that I can now see why the words I used were wrong. It was not my intent to be hurtful, but I now understand that I terribly missed the mark. I sincerely apologize to the LSU and UCLA basketball teams and to our readers."

The Los Angeles Times has since changed the column and reposted it on their website

Following Iowa's defeat of LSU, Tigers star Angel Reese spoke with reporters about what she'd been through off the court since winning last year's championship, which garnered a lot of attention for the trash talk had between her and Iowa star Caitlin Clark. Clark would later defend Reese for the criticism the Tigers star got after that game.  

“I've been through so much,” Reese told reporters. “I've seen so much. I've been attacked so many times, death threats, I've been sexualized, I've been threatened, I've been so many things, and I've stood strong every single time.

“All this has happened since I won the national championship,” Reese said. “And it sucks, but I still wouldn't change anything, and I would still sit here and say I'm unapologetically me. I'm going to always leave that mark and be who I am and stand on that.”

LSU teammates Flau’jae Johnson and Hailey Van Lith also came to Reese’s defense.

“Man, let me tell you something. Everybody can have their opinion on Angel Reese, but y'all don't know her,” Johnson said. “I know the real Angel Reese, and the person I see every day is a strong person, is a caring, loving person. But the crown she wears is heavy.”

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