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Reporter's Cringey Interaction With Caitlin Clark Sparks Backlash—And His Apology Makes It Worse

Indianapolis Star columnist Gregg Doyel apologizes on social media and later in a column for an awkward interaction with the no. 1 draft pick at her first WNBA press conference—but his apology also veered into sexist territory.

Gregg Doyel; Caitlin Clark
IndyStar/YouTube; @ClutchPoints/X

Indianapolis Star reporter Gregg Doyel is under fire after an interaction with number-one WNBA draft pick Caitlin Clark at her first press conference after joining the Indianapolis Fever, and a subsequent apology that many feel only made it worse.

Doyel began his questioning of Clark by making a heart gesture with his hands, which has become something of a signature greeting of Clark's during NCAA games with the University of Iowa.

But he quickly took it to a flirtatious place that many found awkward at best, sexist at worst.

After Doyel made the gesture, Clark explained that she does the heart hands "with my family after every game."

To which Doyel flirtatiously replied:

“Start doing it to me and we’ll get along just fine."

The long-standing tropes that this quip rests in—that men will treat women "just fine" so long as they give them some kind of vaguely sexual gratification—didn't play well with many online, since they're basically the definition of sexual harassment.

For her part, Clark seemed sort of uncomfortably mystified by the comment, perhaps marveling at Doyel's audacity. And the joke definitely did not land well with many who viewed it.

Many felt it was yet another example of how male athletes are regarded with a seriousness female athletes are often denied.

Amid the backlash, Doyel hastily took to X, aka Twitter, to apologize.

Doyel wrote:

"Today in my uniquely oafish way, while welcoming @CaitlinClark22 to Indy, I formed my hands into her signature 🫶."
"My comment afterward was clumsy and awkward. I sincerely apologize."
"Please know my heart (literally and figuratively) was well-intentioned. I will do better."

Doyel elaborated on his apology in his column days later, and many felt it only made things worse.

"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."

Doyel's mea culpa generated even more angry backlash.

There is more context to that passage, however.

Doyel went on to explain that he spoke about the gaffe with several people in his life, who explained that the same words and approach land differently when delivered to a woman.

It allowed him to understand that his interaction with Clark crossed a line and was "wrong, wrong, wrong."

He closed by addressing Clark directly, saying "Caitlin Clark, I’m so sorry." Here's hoping he means it.