An invitation up for debate


Their first ever women’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball championship should have been one of the greatest moments in their lives; however, the LSU Tiger’s taste of victory was quenched following First Lady Jill Biden’s attempt to squash a tradition that has been around for almost two centuries.   

“I think Jill Biden inviting the Hawkeyes was ridiculous. She does not understand how big this tradition is, and the Tigers deserve their special dinner,” Taylor Davis, sophomore, said.n 

History was made on April 2, 2023, when the LSU Tigers defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes with the highest score (102-85) ever recorded in a championship game in women’s NCAA history. Instead of celebrating their historic win, First Lady Biden inadvertently infuriated nearly every college basketball fan in the country by inviting both the championship’s winning and losing teams to come have dinner in the White House, disrupting what would traditionally be a private dinner with only the winners. Despite the Iowa Hawkeyes politely declining the invitation to respect the tradition and the Tiger’s win, the event has sparked conversation regarding race issues within the sports industry.   

“If we (LSU Tigers) were to lose, we would not be getting invited to the White House. I remember [First Lady Biden] made a comment about both teams should be invited because of sportsmanship. And I am like, ‘Are you saying that because of what I did?’ Stuff like that, it bothers me because you are a woman at the end of the day. White, Black, it does not matter, you are a woman, you are supposed to be standing behind us before anything,” Angel Reese, LSU Tiger’s player, said. 

Caitlin Clark (Iowa Hawkeyes) and Reese were both in the spotlight throughout nearly the entire college basketball season due to their extraordinary skills in the league; however, the main difference between them that does not regard their jersey color, but rather, their skin color. While Clark is a White woman, Reese is a Black woman, and though they have both equally taunted one another on the court, Reese has experienced extreme backlash for her words and actions, despite them being very similar to Clark’s. One instance of this double standard was seen when Reese pointed to her ring finger in front of Clark to represent the championship ring that she was trying to win. Clark, though, did this exact thing in two previous games but was commended for her witty trash talk, Twitter users criticized Reese for being “classless.”   

“Basketball is a game of pure skill and trash talk, and if you are going to be one of the top players, you have to learn how to trash talk and not have your feelings hurt. So, in my opinion, [Reese and Clark] were just two players having a very competitive game with their team and themselves,” Michael Stacks, senior, said. 

When First Lady Biden extended the extra invitation, racial controversy only flared up once again, as the LSU Tigers are a predominately Black team, and the Iowa Hawkeyes are predominately White. No first lady has ever attempted to invite the losing team before, and while First Lady Biden’s only reason for the invitation was that she felt the Hawkeyes did a great job, the context of each teams’ roster makes the situation appear much worse. This is especially concerning to the Black community within basketball, as they are still fighting for equality in sports today, whether that be through racially unbiased hiring practices or greater representation on sports teams. 

“Both [Iowa and LSU] have taunted each other and numerous other teams that they have competed against. So, I do not think Angel Reese should be held to a standard of having no class because everyone does it. I think Jill Biden would also see this incident and feel bad she ‘attacked’ the Iowa team and invited them to the White House,” Kennedy Johnson, junior, said. 

Whether or not First Lady Jill Biden intended to offend a nearly 200-year-old tradition, her actions only further ignited an ongoing debate regarding racial equality in sports.