Hailey Van Lith Attributes Negative LSU Remarks to Racism

LSU's Van Lith Addresses Media, Highlights Team Unity.

by Nouman Rasool
Hailey Van Lith Attributes Negative LSU Remarks to Racism
© Andy Lyons/Getty Images

LSU guard Hailey Van Lith stood firm in defense of her teammates following a controversial column in the Los Angeles Times that labeled the players as "dirty debutantes," attributing the negative perception to racism. Van Lith, addressing the media on Sunday, expressed her dismay over the article, especially prior to LSU's Sweet 16 game against UCLA, lamenting the impact such words could have on the team's morale.

She highlighted the presence of Black women on the team, emphasizing the racial biases that still pervade, and shared her personal experiences of receiving different reactions compared to her Black teammates when engaging in trash talk.

Confronting Racial Bias

Van Lith's commentary sheds light on the broader issue of racial bias in sports, suggesting that the derogatory terms used in the article were not only hurtful but also racially charged. The criticism extended to LSU's coach, Kim Mulkey, who criticized the portrayal of the LSU-UCLA game as a moral battle, condemning the narrative as "sexist" and "awful." Adding a personal dimension, Van Lith recounted her journey from Wenatchee, Washington, to LSU, including her time at Louisville, where she first encountered criticism directed at her team.

She specifically mentioned an instance involving teammate Angel Reese, which highlighted the double standards prevalent in sports and society. Van Lith's experiences, both on and off the court, have made her acutely aware of the racial dynamics that influence perceptions and treatment of athletes, especially in predominantly white communities.

Reese, for her part, stated that such negative portrayals only serve to fuel the team's motivation and unity, emphasizing the importance of resilience and self-confidence in the face of adversity. The Los Angeles Times subsequently revised the column, removing the contentious term "dirty debutantes," citing a failure to meet its editorial standards.

However, the incident underscores the ongoing challenges of racism and sexism in sports media, prompting a necessary conversation about fairness, representation, and the impact of words on athletes' lives and careers.