Caitlin Clark Chennedy Carter hard foul Caitlin Clark fouled by Chennedy Carter

Saturday’s WNBA game between the Indiana Fever and Chicago Sky was already a must-see since it would be the first pro meeting between Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese. Naturally, it was broadcast on ESPN.

However, a hard foul from Sky guard Chennedy Carter on Caitlin Clark that some considered dirty was what everyone was talking about after the game was over, even though the Fever notched the victory.

That is, except for ESPN’s SportsCenter.

Towards the end of the third quarter, Carter shoulder-checked Clark, who wasn’t looking, before the basketball was inbounded. Clark hit the ground and Carter was called for a common foul. The call was not reviewed but social media was ablaze with reactions and many wondered why it wasn’t considered flagrant. ESPN’s own Robert Griffin III even referred to the move as “HATING.”

Others also pointed out that Reese was seen celebrating on the bench and afterward with Carter, ramping up the notion that there was something personal there.

Reese and Clark also had a moment that some described as a “cheap shot,” sending Clark tumbling to the floor.

After the game, which ended at 2:06 p.m. ET, Carter turned up the temperature even further, refusing to answer any questions about the foul or Clark in general in a postgame press conference.

“I ain’t answering no Caitlin Clark questions,” said Carter in the post-game presser around 2:30 p.m. ET.

For her part, Clark said that the move by Carter was “not a basketball play.”

“Yeah, that’s just not a basketball play,” Clark said in her interview, transcribed by the New York Post. “But you know I’ve gotta play through it, that’s what basketball is about at this level. I thought we’ve been really physical, we’ve missed some bunnies around the rim, so hopefully those fall in the fourth.”

All of this adds to something really juicy. You’ve got the most hyped rookie (and biggest name) in the WNBA getting checked to the floor in a potentially dirty way while Angel Reese, her college rival, cheers from the bench, and after the game both sides seemed to double down over the intensity surrounding the moment, all while this game helps establish Indiana and Chicago as the league’s top rivalry of the future.

No wonder just about everyone made their reporting on the game about the incident and/or postgame comments.

Screengrab of Google Search results at 5:45 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Where things really became fascinating was the first SportsCenter of the day following the end of the game at 5:00 p.m. ET. In the time between the end of the game and then, social media remained lit up with posts and conversations about the foul and its fallout. Sure enough, SportsCenter opened the program with the Fever-Sky matchup. Anchor Nicole Briscoe noted that there was “some drama in the WNBA” before doing the highlights.

The highlight package is all pretty normal until they reach halftime. At this point, SportsCenter completely skips over anything from the third quarter, with Briscoe saying “Forget about the 3rd, doesn’t matter, didn’t happen.” Then, they do show the incident between Reese and Clark, with Briscoe saying “Pay attention to Clark and Reese, there’s some contact there.”

“Eh, it’s a little bit of a show, too,” adds co-host Michael Eaves, alluding to Clark perhaps overreacting to the contact.

“I saw other things in this game that may have been more contact,” said Briscoe.

The highlights continue and we then see clips of Caitlin Clark discussing the game afterward. However, we aren’t shown any footage from the Sky post-game press conference, including Carter’s eye-raising answer.

The segment then went to Ryan Ruocco and Rebecca Lobo, who had just called the game on ESPN. They discussed the notable players involved and the outcome of the game, but again, avoided discussing the foul or post-game comments.

The segment then ended with a discussion about the WNBA Commissioner’s Cup Championship.

On its face, it seemed a pretty strange way to handle the situation. There has been an ongoing conversation around Clark and the perception that she is being targeted on the court by other WNBA players, perhaps out of a sense that she is getting outsized attention or needs to be “welcomed” to the league. Then, in a game against Reese, with whom Clark already has a history involving taunts and tough play, she’s involved in multiple physical incidents that send her to the floor and her opponents clearly seem annoyed by the mention of her name afterward. The storyline is so obvious it practically writes itself and yet despite talking about the game for a full six minutes, it wasn’t shown or talked about at all.

So it makes it pretty hard to believe that someone at ESPN didn’t decide to ignore it purposefully at least for a while.

We say that because, by the time the 6:00 p.m. SportsCenter rolled around, Briscoe and Eaves had very different coverage of the game and the aforementioned incidents.

This time, the highlight package did include the third quarter and SportsCenter even broke out special graphics to call attention to Carter and Clark in the moments leading up to the foul.

“After the shot, Carter… ohh… there’s some definite contact there,” said Briscoe over the highlight of the foul. “Just dropped Caitlin to the ground. There is a review and away from the play foul is called on Carter. Reese obviously seems to like the energy, if you will.”

“Fair enough,” added Eaves.

The new highlights package also shows the incident between Reese and Clark. The two hosts again discuss whether or not Clark added some “embellishment” to it.

Briscoe then briefly turned her attention back to Carter’s foul on Clark.

“That was BS,” she said. “Then she wouldn’t talk about it afterward, which I found annoying.”

“Trying not get fined, Marshawn Lynch,” added Eaves.

So what does it all mean? Was there some kind of deliberate attempt to downplay the incident and comments for some reason?

In the meantime, we leave you with the words of Awful Announcing’s Lyndsey D’Arcangelo, regarding a truthful assessment of women’s basketball players and how it should be considered. 

“It may come as a shock to some, but the WNBA isn’t some big Kumbaya circle where everyone gets along and holds hands. And it shouldn’t be. There’s this misconception that women athletes have to act ladylike and “behave.” They can’t talk trash. They can’t swear. They can’t get heated in a moment of fiery competition. They can’t push or shove or pound their chests. If these kind of things makes you clutch your pearls, then perhaps the WNBA isn’t for you. There’s going to be heated rivalries. There’s going to be players who don’t get along. There’s going to be yelling and chest-pounding and swearwords and physicality and staredowns and confrontations and technical fouls.

It’s all part of the game, as it should be.”

Clearly something happened between the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. SportsCenter episodes that led ESPN from ignoring the physicality of the most controversial moment of the game to then featuring it prominently. The early version without the Carter foul was done for a reason. But whether it was the on-air hints from Briscoe during the initial highlight package, some discussion behind the scenes, or someone finally coming to their senses, the right move was made in acknowledging what everyone was already talking about. In the end, they got it right but it does make you wonder- what in the world were they thinking the first time?

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to