Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) drives to the basket against the Chicago Sky during a game on June 1. | Michelle Pemberton/INDIANAPOLIS STAR-USA TODAY Sports

Caitlin Clark’s entrance into the WNBA has caused an intense focus on the league, with high ratings, sellout crowds and, unfortunately, a whole bunch of dumb takes that have veered into homophobia and racism.

The latest entry into the dumb takes department is Outkick founder Clay Travis, who should generally be ignored, except that he has a prominent platform for conservatives and appears on popular cable shows like Sean Hannity’s on Fox.

The latest trigger point was Clark being shoved to the ground by Chicago Sky player Chennedy Carter during a game on Saturday, which drew a foul. It spurred a huge debate on whether the foul was Clark being bullied for being the new kid on the block or whether it was just basketball.

It also led people like Travis to inject race and sexuality into the mix, a volatile combination from someone who is a provocateur and not a sociologist.

“Caitlin Clark is a white heterosexual woman in a Black lesbian league and they resent and are jealous of all of the attention and the shoe deal that she got. And instead of recognizing the truth, which is great athletes who people care about coming into your league really do get everybody more money,” Travis told Hannity on Monday.

When Hannity asked what lesbians had to do with it, Travis replied by making up a stat.

“70% lesbian,” Travis said. “And I think her having a boyfriend, I think it’s a fiancé, who by the way said there needs to be an enforcer, creates two different identity politics universes that she doesn’t fit in in this league. They don’t like her cause she’s white and they don’t like her cause she’s straight. And as a result, the league is coming undone around her even though she’s bringing in new fans.”

For the record, there is no way to determine the percentage of lesbians in the WNBA, though 70% seems absurdly high. In fact, a humanities paper from 2022 came up with a figure of 38% of the players being lesbians, citing a WNBA study from years ago.

In fact, the WNBA “commissioned a study in 2012 that found that 25% of lesbians watch the league’s games on TV while 21% have attended a game” (Associated Press, 2014). … In regard to players, the present study found that ~38% of WNBA players are lesbian.

While we hope that these breakdowns dissuade overgeneralizations of the WNBA as a majority lesbian league, the proportion of LGBTQ supporters and participants highlights the unique inclusivity of women‟s professional sports. From the standpoint of intersectionality, lesbians are at risk for double discrimination in the general public sphere (as women and as non-heterosexuals) (Lenskyj,1991). However, in the unique sphere of professional sports, the playing field seems effectively leveled for lesbians relative to straight women

The WNBA and Athletic Performance Based on Sexual Orientation

As for Travis’ comment that the league is “becoming undone,” that’s preposterous. The WNBA is doing better than ever because of new stars like Clark, Angel Reese and Cameron Brink. People like Travis are vested in making everything about some culture-war trope and Clark, a white player, being shoved by Carter, a Black player, is catnip for ginning up outrage and clicks.

Fortunately, Clark is taking it all in stride, with her reaction to the foul: “I wasn’t expecting that,” Clark said after the game. “But I think it’s just like, ‘Respond, calm down, and let your play do the talking.'” It’s nice that someone is being the adult.