It’s Not Taunting, it’s Motivation

Deon Key, Staff Writer

In the closing minutes of the Women’s National Championship game, LSU star Angel Reese began celebrating her team’s clear win over Iowa and their star player, Caitlin Clark. As the clock ticked down, Reese could be seen waving her hand in front of her face – mimicking a popular taunt by professional wrestler John Cena – and pointing at her ring figure.  

Reese’s taunting became a story almost immediately as people expressed criticism of her while others expressed support. 

According to CNN’s Ben Morse, following the game Clark expressed that she had no problem with Reese’s actions. “I don’t think Angel should be criticized at all,” said Clark, “I’m just one that competes, and she competed. I think everybody knew there was going to be a little trash talk during the entire tournament. It’s not just me and Angel.” Despite Clark not having a problem with the taunting – something she herself is well-known for as well – it became clear that taunting would become yet another controversial issue in sports. 

Ultimately, the debate is really about whether or not taunting and excessive celebration should be allowed at any level of sports. In my opinion, taunting should be allowed at any level – yes, any level. Whether it be youths at the age of 10, high school athletes, or professionals, I look at taunting as a good thing because it teaches the athlete being taunted how to use the frustration or anger that it brings for good things such as making them play harder, practice with more focus, and become better. It teaches athletes of all ages how to deal with adversity right in front of them.  

However, while I am a proponent of taunting, I do feel like there is one basic “rule” that must be followed: you cannot put your hands or body on anybody. When you play basketball and you get dunked on or a big shot is made against you and then your opponent pushes you. That’s not okay. In football when somebody catches a ball over you and they touch your head or throw the ball in your face. That’s not okay. Taunting is talking trash, making a gesture, or staring someone down – not cheap-shotting them. 

Some people argue that taunting is disrespectful and rude and I understand that point. The actions associated with taunting can be seen through two lenses, one good and one bad. I see it through the positive lens because I feel like taunting is what makes the game more intense and makes players compete harder.  I don’t see taunting as rude or disrespectful because after the game, what happened on the field or court is over and you shake hands with your opponent and exhibit good sportsmanship.  When I play football and I have a friend on the opposing team, being friends is out of the window and I’ll talk trash, I’ll taunt them all game.  After the game though, it’s only love, respect, and true sportsmanship.