The nation has been enthralled with the storylines playing out in this year’s women’s NCAA Tournament. Last Friday, March 29, Ben Bolch of The Los Angeles Times stained an otherwise beautiful thing. He wrote an article in which he juxtaposed two squads. The UCLA Bruins were to face the LSU Tigers. Bolch thought it to be a good idea to frame the match-up as “good versus evil.” He went on to try and further contextualize the teams’ personas as UCLA being the “milk and cookies” to LSU’s “dirty debutantes.”

For purposes of clarity, the LSU Tigers are a predominately Black team. They play a physical brand of ball led by Angel Reese. In response, Tigers head coach Kim Mulkey put Bolch on the Summer Jam screen. She addressed the sexist and racial undertones that he chose to angle his piece with. I’m glad that she did because the article was then edited, and rid of the distasteful phrasing that it had the first time around.

We cannot lose humanity in covering athletes. These ladies are still growing into themselves and are just learning to navigate the world as adults. There’s so much physical, mental, and emotional maturation that goes on during this time of their lives. To make assertions about a team’s character, that does nothing but play the right way is egregious. Categorizing these teams clearly with racial undertones in mind is beyond unfair. It’s abhorrent and regressive. It makes you wonder, “Who is hiring these writers to begin with?”

In a world where conflict has been center stage, and the chicanery of politics has been a focal, this tournament has been a palette cleanser. The beauty of sports is that at its core, it’s the purest exhibition of physical ability. It’s a healthy exercise that gets soiled by thoughts like those of Bolch’s. It’s pretty exhausting to think that we as Black people are constantly having to defend ourselves and our humanity. All the Tigers had done up until that point, was win basketball games. They broke no rules, they played the right way. So, what would warrant someone to spew such asinine rhetoric? You have to hope that Bolch learns the error of his ways sooner than later.

During this season, we’re gifted one of the most exciting and star-studded NCAA Tournaments ever. The spotlight of these games should be on the players and their play. We can even pick apart when players aren’t playing up to snuff. All of that is in bounds. But contextualizing any team as evil is just plain wrong. It’s a cheap move that doesn’t inform us much of one’s intellect.

It’ll safely inform me of your level of ignorance. In a perfect world, I’d never have to speak on this again. But as long as racism is in the DNA of this country, ignorance will always be prevalent. As for now, I ask that we let these ladies play. It’s their time to shine. With all the time that they have put in to reach these levels of performance, the one thing that they are allowed is our respect.