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The standout freshman point guard used her platform to advocate for equity rather than lauding her own accomplishments
University of Connecticut basketball star Paige Bueckers took home the hardware for best college athlete in women’s sports at the 2021 ESPYs on Saturday, and used her acceptance speech to highlight and celebrate Black women.
“With the light that I have now as a white woman who leads a Black-led sport and celebrated here, I want to shed a light on Black women,” Bueckers said. “They don’t get the media coverage that they deserve. They’ve given so much to the sport, the community and society as a whole and their value is undeniable.”
The 19-year-old point guard also used her platform to advocate for greater media coverage for Black women athletes, saying that Black WNBA players get half as much attention as their white counterparts yet they account for “80 percent” of post-season awards.
“I think it’s time for change. Sports media holds the key to storylines. Sports media and sponsors tell us who is valuable, and you have told the world that I mattered today, and everyone who voted, thank you. But I think we should use this power together to also celebrate Black women.”
Bueckers thanked several Black women by name, such as broadcast journalists Maria Taylor and Robin Roberts, and standout athletes such as WNBA star Maya Moore and college softball phenom Odicci Alexander. She also paid respects to Breonna Taylor and others who have fallen victim to police brutality and hate crimes.
“To all the incredible Black women in my life and on my teams. To Breonna Taylor and all the lives lost, and to those names who are not yet learned, but I hope to share, I stand behind you and I continue to follow you, follow your lead and fight for you guys so I just want to say thank you for everything,” she said.
Bueckers is no stranger to winning awards. Along with this ESPY, she has taken home the AP Player of the Year award, the John R. Wooden Award for best women’s college basketball player and two Naismith Player of the Year Awards — one for her achievements during her freshman year at the University of Connecticut and the other for her achievements as a senior in high school.
Bueckers entered the University of Connecticut as the number-one-ranked player in her class, and during her freshman campaign averaged 20 points, nearly six assists, and over two steals per game, leading the Huskies to a 28-2 record and a Final Four appearance in the March Madness tournament.
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