Doyel: Caitlin Clark, I’m so sorry. On Wednesday I was part of the problem.

I’m devastated to realize I’m part of the problem. I screwed up Wednesday during my first interaction with No. 1 overall draft pick Caitlin Clark of the Indiana Fever.

What happened was the most me thing ever, in one way. I’m sort of known locally, sigh, for having awkward conversations with people before asking brashly conversational questions. I’ve done this for years with Colts coaches Chuck Pagano, Frank Reich and Shane Steichen. I’ve done it with Purdue players Carsen Edwards and Zach Edey. I did it with IU’s Romeo Langford, talking to them as people, not athletes.

Notice something about all those names?

They’re all men.

On the one hand, yes absolutely, male and female athletes should be treated the same. I’m talking about coverage, respect, compensation, terminology, you name it. Stories have been written about idiots who say or act otherwise.

And then, along comes a story about another insensitive man, which goes viral on social media, and I decided to write about that idiot.


What I’ve learned is that I need to be more aware about how I talk to people – not just athletes. I realized that only after my exchange with Clark went viral and I navigated the first two stages of grief during a discussion with the people I care about the most.

Denial: I didn’t do anything wrong! I gave Caitlin her signature heart-shaped hand gesture as a way of introducing myself and welcoming her to town! I did this during a nationally televised press conference! What kind of idiot acts creepy on national television! (Me.)

Anger: This is how I talk to everyone! Had that been the male equivalent arriving to energize team and town – since I’ve been here, the closest thing Indianapolis has had is Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson – I’d have shown him the heart gesture and reiterated, “I like that you’re here.”

This is where I was, convinced I was harmless and right, when a woman I deeply respect told me, “But Caitlin Clark is a young woman, and you don’t talk to a young woman the same as you would a young man.”

And my heart dropped. Because now I saw it: After years of being so sure I was on the right side of these arguments, I was now on the wrong side, and for the oldest reason known to man and woman:


You can say that’s absurd, that I should’ve known better, and I do. But here we are. I was just doing what I do, talking to another athlete, another person, and didn’t see the line – didn’t even know there was a line in the vicinity – until I crossed it.

In my haste to be clever, to be familiar and welcoming (or so I thought), I offended Caitlin and her family.

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.

Caitlin Clark, I’m so sorry.