Emmanuel Acho FS1 Angel Reese Screen grab: “Speak” on Fox Sports 1

In a raw display of emotion, LSU Tigers star Angel Reese spoke out about the relentless negativity she’s faced since leading her team to a national championship last year.

Her confident personality and on-court celebrations were met with a barrage of online abuse. Reese has been targeted with both racist and sexist attacks, highlighting the deep-seated issues in our society. While she remained resilient, it’s clear this experience has taken its toll. And it’s disheartening to see a young, 21-year-old woman like Reese forced to endure such hatred.

Instead of showing support for Reese, Fox Sports’ Emmanuel Acho decided to be a contrarian, as has been a common trend in his sports media career. For some odd reason, he wanted to give a “gender-neutral and racially indifferent take.”

“Angel Reese, you can’t be the big, bad wolf but then kind of cry like Courage the Cowardly Dog,” he said. “Because if you want to act grown, which she has; if you wanted to get paid like you’re grown, which she has; if you wanted to talk to grown folks like you grown, which you told a coach from an opposing team, ‘Watch your mouth.’ If you want to tell people get your money up, then postgame, when you take an L, you just gotta take it on the chin.

“Nobody mourns when the villain catches an L. And Angel Reese, you have self-proclaimed to be the villain. Shoutout to you because you’re the second-best basketball player on the court, and it was not close. Outside of Caitlin Clark, it was you…Absolute dog, but you can’t under any circumstance, go to the podium and now try to ask for individuals to give you sympathy. Nobody has sympathy for the villain. You painted the bullseye on your back. Why are you surprised when people shoot at you? So, if you want to act grown, if you want to pose grown, if you want to talk grown, if you want to talk to grown folks grown, then you gotta take the L like you grown. Because what frustrated me is you want to be the villain, but you want to hope for sympathy like a hero.”

Acho’s comments completely missed the mark. While Reese’s on-court persona might be viewed as antagonistic, it shouldn’t open her up to racist and sexist abuse. To even suggest otherwise is insensitive and dismissive of her experience.

His remarks have predictably sparked outrage, with media personalities like Taylor Rooks, a prominent figure on Prime Video’s Thursday Night Football, Bleacher Report, and TNT Sports, rightfully criticizing his stance:

“Respectfully, colleague – The disappointing thing about this take is you actually can’t have an informed opinion on this if you are choosing to be gender neutral and racially indifferent. Because that is impossible. Her existence as a black woman shapes both how she is seen by others and how she sees the world. And in this case how she is seen by you.

Your response here is actually full of opinions that indirectly (and directly) involve both race and gender. It’s just coded to unsuccessfully soften the blow. You have to ask why Angel became the villain. You have to ask why her role as ‘villain’ has not allowed her to also be human. You have to wonder why her being asked a question and simply answering has led to this level of discourse. You have to ask what you mean when you say Angel wants to talk grown or pose grown?? What is ‘grown’ a substitute for? You have to ask why trash talking – a practice many athletes engage in – is seen so much harsher when it comes from someone that looks like her. You have to ask how some of the ideas you expressed fuel the fire of the aforementioned marginalization. You have to ask why you heard her discuss unacceptable treatment and your reaction was to discuss how she can’t address it. And I have to ask if you spoke to any black women athletes about their experiences in order to give a more enlightened take before you came and said this.

Angel has absolutely made herself a public figure and she should be open to the criticism pertaining her game and persona. She should also be allowed to express when those criticisms are out of bounds. Why did you cling to her reaction as opposed to the vitriol that caused it? She certainly does not deserve sympathy for losing a game. She deserves sympathy for being attacked and targeted for things outside of said game.

As much as you believe this to be a take without bias, your reasoning proves the point you are fighting against. Opinions are opinions, and everyone is entitled, but our opinions are shaped by the paradigms we know. I hope no one says they are taking out gender and race, because in a black woman’s world, we do not have that choice. I hope you realize your luxury and privilege by being able to say what you said. I hope you look around and notice the people that have delighted and applauded seeing a black man get on television and give THIS opinion on a young black woman. Because it’s not for the reasons you think.

That’s my take.”

This incident, among other things, exposes the double standard faced by women athletes. When they display confidence, they’re labeled villains, but when they express vulnerability, it’s seen as weakness. Reese never asked for sympathy on the court; she asked to be treated like a human being. And the fact that Acho can’t see that, means he’s either being intentionally obtuse for engagement purposes, or he just doesn’t get it. It’s likely both, and Rooks took him to task for it, as did many viewers and members of sports media.

[Taylor Rooks on Twitter/X]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.