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  • Writer's pictureJG .

R-E-S-P-E-C-T


Monday night’s Elite Eight basketball game between LSU and Iowa set a record as the most watched women's college basketball game in history with 12.3 million viewers. It finally looked like women’s college basketball was finally receiving a level of respect. The game pitted the defending National Champions LSU against Iowa, led by the NCAA D-1 all-time scoring leader, Caitlin Clark. But as women’s basketball is seeking respect from the sports community, the LSU women’s basketball team has unapologetically showed zero respect to anyone over the last two seasons. They talk smack; they pull hair; they get into fights; they mock, they demean, the rub their opponents’ noses in their loses. That’s what they do. LSU starting point guard Hailey Van Lith defended her team’s behavior, when she said, “It’s our personalities. It’s what makes the game fun for us.” 


Their disrespect was not just towards their opponents, they also chose to disrespect America by refusing to show up for the playing of the National Anthem before their game on Monday while Iowa stood on the court holding hands as a team. LSU Head Coach Kim Mulkey tried to excuse her team’s National Anthem no-show by claiming, “Honestly, I don’t even know when the anthem was played. We kind of have a routine where we’re on the floor and then they come off at the 12-minute mark. I don’t know … I’m sorry … Listen, that’s nothing intentionally done.” 


But Chessa Bouche, a reporter from Baton Rouge who covers the Lady-Tigers, put LSU’s pre-game actions on Monday night into the full context when she tweeted, ‘LSU is never on the court for the playing of the National Anthem’. So, not only did LSU disrespect America, but their coach disrespected the American public by lying about how her team disrespected our country. They want it both ways. They want to disrespect our country, but do not want to be viewed as the team who disrespects their country. We live in America, so they are allowed to express themselves however they see fit and can chose not to stand for the National Anthem if they do not want to. The problem is that they give zero respect to everyone else, but demand the optimum respect from everyone else.


They brazenly demean and disrespect their opponents, but when the Washington Post and LA Times write articles that do not show their team and their coach the respect that they think they deserve, they call foul. They charged racism and sexism against these journalists who were merely describing LSU’s continuous demeaning on-court behavior. So, it’s okay for them to disrespect other people, but not okay for other people to disrespect them. Respect is a two-way street. If you are not willing to give it, you probably won’t receive it in return.


Wanting to have it both ways is very common these days especially among college age people. It is a form of narcissism that is permeating our culture. The new economics of college sports has amplified this narcissistic mindset among college athletes. They demand NIL money and free agency, but they still want to be seen and treated as amateur student athletes. They want all the benefits of being a professional, and all of the coddling of being just a college student. Just as they want the ability to demean others, but do not want anybody to say a negative thing about them.  


But disrespectful behavior is not exclusive to the LSU women’s basketball team, or even college athletics. We don’t see much respect in sports anymore. In Major League Baseball, there are .230 hitters who have hit 12 home runs in their career, doing a bat flip and pimping a homer that barely cleared the fence in a meaningless April game down by six runs. NFL players engage in choreographed touchdown celebrations. It’s embarrassing. There was a time when batters put their heads down and ran around the bases as fast as they could after hitting a home run, and running backs handed the ball to the referee after scoring a touchdown. That was done out of respect, not just for their opponent, but for the game. All of these theatrics, take away from the game, because the game becomes about the theatrics and the actual events of the game become secondary.


But after all their touchdown dances, bat flips, ring finger pointing, whoever wins the Championship will put their narcissism on display by playing the victim card. As if it were scripted, in the post-victory interview, members of the winning team will always claim that were victims of hate. They will proclaim, ‘no one believed in us’ or they will call out ‘all those people who doubted us’. Those words will be said by several college basketball players this coming Sunday night and Monday night. It is so absurd. They are so self-absorbed that they actually believe that if 100% of the people did not predict them to win the championship, then they were somehow insulted, and the entire world was against them. They are so concerned about how they may have been slighted that they choose to use their moment in the spotlight to call out the people who didn’t root for them, rather than thanking those who actually did.


But this is the thinking that is taken over this younger generation. They are a group of people, who at the same time, troll, mock, and ridicule others on social media, the internet or in-person, and then demand the utmost respect for themselves. This is the generation that demands safe spaces on college campuses, so they never have to hear an opinion different from their own. They charge people with micro-aggressions, cultural appropriation and using the wrong pronouns because they believe words are violence, but then will threaten physical harm and riot against anyone who voices opinions they disagree with. It is a sign of a generation who is so spoiled that they believe they deserve to get everything that they want even if the things that they want are completely contradictory in nature.


There were sports villains back in the day who talked trash and disrespected opponents, like the Oakland Raiders of the 1970’s, the Detroit Pistons of the 1980’s, Duke Basketball of the 1990’s, but these villains embraced the villain role. They thrived on it. But most of all they had too much self-respect to whine and cry about others not giving them respect.

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J Garrett is a graduate of Princeton University. He has been a contributor to the website Real Clear Politics. He has recently published his first novel, No Wind.

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Jack Hiller
Jack Hiller
Apr 04

Apt comments. But, there are yet a few good sports. Never have seen Aaron Judge behave badly. Paige Bueckers commented after her team's last win that her injuries served to strengthen her thru trial, and thanked God for her blessings--never seen her be rude to anyone; in fact, the UConn players, men's and women's teams, never get rude.

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Judd Garrett is a former NFL player, coach and executive. He is a frequent contributer to the website Real Clear Politics, and has recently published his first novel, No Wind

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