Skip to main content

Sports columnist apologizes for 'oafish' comments directed at Caitlin Clark. The controversy isn't over


A male columnist has apologized for a cringeworthy moment during former University of Iowa superstar and college basketball's highest scorer Caitlin Clark's first news conference as an Indiana Fever player.

The Wednesday exchange went viral on social media, and critics said it underscored the difficulties many female athletes have in gaining respect and equal treatment from sports journalists, who are frequently male.

The discussion began with Gregg Doyel, a columnist for the Indianapolis Star newspaper, making a heart with his hands to Clark, a gesture Clark often used during her college basketball career.

Clark responded, "You like that?" Doyel replied, "I like that you’re here," and Clark explained, "Yeah, I do that at my family after every game." Then Doyel added, "Start doing it to me and we’ll get along just fine."

Doyel apologized later that same day.

"Today in my uniquely oafish way, while welcoming @CaitlinClark22 to Indy, I formed my hands into her signature [heart hands emoji]," he wrote in a post on X shortly after the incident. "My comment afterward was clumsy and awkward. I sincerely apologize."

In a separate post on X, he added: "Caitlin Clark, I’m so sorry. Today I was part of the problem," the title of his apology column that published Wednesday.

Even though Doyel posted his apologies to the social media platform, and in his own column, for the sexist remarks he made to the basketball phenom, the discussion he provoked about misogyny in sports hasn’t come to a close.

Doyel’s back and forth with Clark was almost universally panned online. Media figures from Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic and NBC to Dave Portnoy (whose own Barstool Sports has been accused of upholding a sexist culture) slammed Doyel after the clip spread across the internet.

Meanwhile, the Indy Star writer went so far as to use the stages of grief to illustrate how he arrived at his moment of clarity.

"After going through denial, and then anger — I’m on the wrong side of this? Me??? — I now realize what I said and how I said it was wrong, wrong, wrong. I mean it was just wrong," he wrote in his column. "Caitlin Clark, I’m so sorry."

But users on X accused him of using the incident as a way to produce content and of missing the point of the offending behavior.

The controversy also comes as conversations about how WNBA players are compensated heat up and as the power of women in entertainment and sports reaches unprecedented heights. Top Stories

Local Spotlight

Stay Connected