We need more Caitlin Clark moments in America right now

Photo of Caitlin Clark first published on the University of Iowa’s Hawkeye Sports website in 2023.

Bernie Scolaro is a retired school counselor, a past president of the Sioux City Education Association, and former Sioux City school board member.

I am one of those snowbirds from Iowa residing in South Carolina. I happily cheered on Caitlin Clark and the Iowa women’s basketball team throughout the NCAA Final Four tournament. While my Carolinian friends cheered for their Gamecocks, they nonetheless enjoyed and admired the ride the Hawkeyes provided for myself, the state of Iowa, and actually, most of the nation. 

Watching Iowa women’s basketball brought so many of us together for a few days of healthy competition and a great display of true sportsmanship. For a brief time, we were captivated by the innocence of college kids on a court just having fun. We filled arenas and America forgot how divided we were. 

And when the games were over, Caitlin, the coaches, and the other players all spoke highly of one other. They understood the moment was bigger than themselves, and they understood that mutual respect means more than the outcome of any game.

A day later, I sat with my one of my Republican friends to watch the solar eclipse. Again, we were captivated by the moment and the opportunity. We were both going to see the same eclipse regardless of our beliefs. The eclipse is as rare an occurrence as it is to see Democrats and Republicans sitting together and setting aside strongly held differing viewpoints. Again, the nation came together.

I started my TikTok account during the COVID-19 pandemic. It gave me a creative outlet and a connection to other people when we were all confined to our homes. I admit, many of my videos directed humor and sarcasm towards the Trump presidency. I usually mouthed his words as if I were him speaking, or had make believe phone calls with him, or took some of his most outlandish tweets in segments I named “Deep Tweets by Donald J. Trump.”

I received a lot of hateful comments by the MAGA people, about my age, my looks, my sexuality. (In all fairness to MAGA, my parody and humor was also misconstrued a couple of times by Democrats. I even received some hate comments from them!) The experience prompted me to do a couple of TikToks on social media bullying. I can see how young people struggle while growing up in this age of social media. They are still forming their personalities, identity and self-worth. Even at my age, it’s hard to not take things personally.

With Trump’s new candidacy, my posts once again received hate comments. A MAGA person would “duet” me and all their followers appeared to unleash themselves. I recently have had to make my profile private for the first time, changing my settings to limit comments and followers. 

I don’t just blame the MAGA extremes. I also blame myself. I realize that in a country so divided, my “humor” is cutting to the core of people with whom I disagree with, but who feel as strongly as I do.  Although their lashing out is still inexcusable, it is perhaps a lesson for all of us to be kinder and to be considerate of how others feel. Humor is not always funny. I, too, must challenge myself to see how I can use social media to bring us together, not divide us further.

A solar eclipse might be a rare event, but sitting together and sharing moments with others doesn’t have to be. We should all take time every so often to come together like we did to watch an eclipse or to celebrate Caitlin Clark and the Iowa basketball team. We all need to be a little kinder and understand that moments are bigger than ourselves, and mutual respect means more than any outcome.

About the Author(s)

Bernie Scolaro

  • I was in the path of totality in rural Missouri in 2017

    As I pulled into a gravel parking lot where other eclipse travelers were gathering, I felt a little uneasy about some of the bumper stickers I was seeing. Then came the eclipse, which was amazing and wonderful. We crowd members collectively expressed our enthusiasm and awe. Then we slowly departed, and I was faced with the bumper stickers again.

    It was definitely very enjoyable to be reminded that people of many viewpoints can appreciate the stunning beauty of a total eclipse. But an eclipse is well beyond any influence of human policy or opinion. Driving home, I saw frequent reminders that such is not true of rural Iowa. I saw farm fields that showed visible signs of soil erosion, and other fields that were lacking grassed waterways, a conservation basic. If many more Iowans of many viewpoints were politically agreeing on and working for a more healthy, beautiful Iowa landscape, that would be wondrous.