Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

The Caitlin Clark Effect

Caitlin Clark has been one of the most entertaining sports players to watch over the last two seasons. She fought hard two years in a row to bring herself and her Iowa teammates to the NCAA national championship game, but sadly ended up losing both of those games. She broke the women’s NCAA scoring record and almost immediately after became the NCAA’s all time leading scorer. She is the first division 1 player to ever record 3,700+ points, 1,000+ assists and 850+ rebounds over a four-year collegiate career.

She has become an icon in the sporting world. Known for her huge shooting range (breaking the women’s scoring title with a 3-pointer taken from the logo 35 feet out), she has been likened to Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors. But I don’t want to analyze their games necessarily; I would prefer to focus on the ways that they each respectively have changed the culture and nature of the NBA and WNBA.

Steph Curry has been known to be the one man who changed the culture and the way the NBA is played. Curry was not nearly as highly touted of a prospect as Clark has been. He was drafted 7th overall from Davidson to the Golden State Warriors. He was known to be a sharpshooter who could drill 3’s from anywhere on the court after Davidson’s cinderella run in March Madness. When he started to show his talent in the league, everybody suddenly wanted a player who could shoot like Curry. He started what is now known as the 3-point revolution.

Curry changed the way the sport was played. He made the small shooter as cool as the powerful big-man who would shove players around. The culture shifted. Suddenly everyone was watching the shooters. Clark has done something similar, but instead of bringing love to a new archetype of player, she is bringing love to the entirety of women’s basketball.

The women’s NCAA March Madness final averaged around 18.7 million viewers, which was the most watched basketball game in over five years. The last game to get that amount of viewers or more was the 2019 men’s March Madness final. Caitlin Clark, before even leaving college, has surpassed the NBA FINALS in terms of popularity. However, there needs to be credit given to the other talents that were on display.

South Carolina went undefeated throughout the entire season, Kamilla Cardoso was defensive player of the year and third overall pick in the WNBA draft this season, and Iowa was not just a one player team. There were plenty of players in this game who deserved to be watched, but the viewership of this game says much more about what Caitlin Clark’s spectacle has brought to the game. Even South Carolina’s head coach Dawn Staley recognized that, shown by their high praises for Clark after defeating Iowa in the national championship.

“I want to personally thank Caitlin Clark for lifting up our sport. She carried a heavy load for our sport, and it’s not just going to stop here on the collegiate tour. When she is the number one pick in the WNBA draft, she’s gonna lift up that league as well. Caitlin Clark, if you’re out there, you are one of the GOATs [greatest of all time] of our game and we appreciate you.”

Now that Clark has been drafted number one overall in that draft, it is clear that what Staley said was right. Clark’s dominance on the court and in the media has not only been a benefit for her, but she has actively improved the way that many people look at women’s sports and has brought it into the spotlight. Clark’s ability to shine has not only brought her forward, but it has also brought forward all other players in women’s basketball.

Even with Clark’s spotlight, the mass public has started to hear of so many other incredibly talented female basketball players. Angel Reese (who beat Clark in the 2023 national championship), Kamilla Cardoso (Defensive Player of the Year), Paige Beuckers (first player to win national Player of the Year as a freshman in 2021), Cameron Brink (carried Stanford for years) and freshman JuJu Watkins (scored 50 in a game this season). Each of these players may have been completely overlooked if it weren’t for the praise that Clark has gotten in the last few seasons.

Clark’s excellence is not just a benefit for her and her own publicity, but she has basically legitimized women’s sports in a world where they were severely overlooked for so long. Now that she is going into the WNBA with her $28 million Nike deal, she paves the way for a more respected and better paying lifestyle for all future female athletes.

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