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Am I already falling out of love with Caitlin Clark?
Matthew Holst / Contributor, Steph Chambers / Staff, Ron Jenkins / Stringer | Getty Images

Am I already falling out of love with Caitlin Clark?

Fame may already have stolen the Iowa Hawkeyes' MVP from those of us looking for sports stars who remind us of the “good old days.”

Caitlin Clark’s dad spoke for all of us Saturday afternoon. From his seat inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena, he shouted two words to his talented and electrifying daughter: “SHUT UP!”

Clark and the No. 1-seeded Hawkeyes were playing 16th-seeded Holy Cross. Clark spent a significant portion of the game focused on arguing with the refs. Frustrated by the smothering defensive attention Holy Cross deployed to slow the best women’s college basketball player, Clark whined to the refs on nearly every other trip down the court.

Money, fame, and social media corrupt the same in Iowa as they do in Texas.

It was a bad look for the player I’ve dubbed “Show White,” the biggest star in all of college athletics. She looked spoiled and entitled. I give her dad credit for recognizing and trying to address it. Her dad can see what I see.

Caitlin Clark is in the process of destroying the reputation and perception that combined with her uncanny shot-making made her the most fascinating story in sports since Tiger Woods won the 1997 Masters.

For the past year, Clark has walked the line of carrying herself with just enough swagger and bravado to grab your attention and just enough likeability and humility to make you love her.

I love Caitlin Clark. She’s made me a fan of women’s college basketball. Saturday was the first time I started to have reservations. Saturday was the first time that I pondered whether all the national commercials, the name, image, and likeness money, and all the adulation had not turned “Show White” into just another spoiled, entitled jock.

I have to admit, some people spotted this ugly trend long before me. Perhaps I was too caught up in defending Clark from her bigoted and jealous critics and I couldn’t see that Clark has Johnny Manziel tendencies. Foolishly, I thought a young woman from Iowa wouldn’t act as arrogantly as a Texas quarterback.

But money, fame, and social media corrupt the same in Iowa as they do in Texas.

At this point, it’s quite clear that Caitlin Clark isn’t much different from Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders.

The difference might be the dads. Caitlin’s dad sees the problem and is apparently trying to correct it. Deion Sanders, Colorado’s coach and Shedeur’s dad, thinks his son walks on water and can dictate where he plays in the NFL.

Perhaps Monday night, when the Hawkeyes take on West Virginia in the second round of the women's NCAA Tournament, we’ll find out if Brent Clark reached his daughter. I hope he has.

The glut of money that has flooded into professional and college sports has made it nearly impossible to disciple young athletes. You can’t lead them anywhere. You can beg them to follow, and that’s about it.

They’re child TV and movie stars.

Fame may already have stolen Caitlin Clark from those of us looking for sports stars who remind us of the “good old days.”

My whole love affair with women’s college basketball is driven by my attempt to find a replacement for the NBA and men’s college basketball. The NBA is unwatchable. The players don’t care about the regular season. It’s way too much isolation basketball mixed with jacking up three-pointers. The transfer portal and young players turning pro early ruined men’s college basketball.

I thought the women’s game might fix my basketball jones. I’m not sure if its traction and relevance will be sustained. Clark is headed to the WNBA this summer. I’m highly unlikely to watch that. The players are entitled and whine constantly.

This weekend, I watched Southern California freshman JuJu Watkins. She’s going to be great, maybe better than Clark. But it won’t be long before she falls to money and fame. She’s managed by Klutch Sports, LeBron James’ agency. Watkins will likely turn into an angry Black Lives Matter advocate.

I’ve probably just had a brief fling with women’s hoops. I can already see the breakup.

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