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The Tower

The Student News Site of The Bishop's School

The Tower

The Student News Site of The Bishop's School

The Tower

The Caitlin Clark Effect

How Iowa Women’s Basketball star Caitlin Clark is changing women’s sports
John Mac on Flickr
Caitlin Clark has one of the most lethal three-point range in the WNBA.

Caitlin Clark shoots at the freethrow line, and the crowd roars. She makes it, and the crowd cheers even louder. Then, the moment they have all been waiting for has come: Caitlin Clark knocks down her second free throw and makes history once again. In that game against Ohio State, Caitlin Clark passed Louisiana State University player Pete Maravich to become the NCAA Division I basketball’s all-time leading scorer with 3.4 million other fans watching at home.

There’s no doubt that more people are watching women’s college basketball now, and that is because of the Caitlin Clark Effect. She won the John R. Wooden Award twice, which is given to the best college basketball players, is the all-time NCAA leader scoring leader for both men and women, and made the most three-pointers in a single season by any Division I player. The NCAA March Madness championship game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the South Carolina Gamecocks averaged 18.7 million viewers on ESPN, making it the most watched basketball game since 2019, according to the New York Post. Dawn Staley, head coach for South Carolina said, “I want to personally thank Caitlin Clark for lifting up our sport,” after their win over Iowa. 

According to Women’s Varsity Basketball Coach Paris Johnson, “[Caitlin Clark] is a great player and has definitely put women’s basketball on the radar, which is good for the sport of basketball for women. It’s been a long time since women’s basketball has been this exciting to watch.” 

Girls’ Varsity Basketball player Ayla Johnson (‘26) agreed with Coach Johnson and added, “Even my non-basketball-playing friends were equally as invested and excited to watch the games as I was.”

Record-breaking and award-winning Caitlin Clark dominated college basketball. She is also making fans, athletes, and many people have more respect and admiration for women’s basketball and women’s sports in general. Angela An (‘27), an avid basketball fan, said, “When a women player breaks a record for both women’s and men’s, it’s a symbolic thing that women’s sports is growing and their greatness should be appreciated and expected too.”

The Iowa Hawkeyes and Caitlin Clark won the 2023 Ben Ten women’s basketball tournament.

In addition to Caitlin Clark, other players, such as Angel Reese, Chicago Sky forward player, also impacted women’s basketball as these talented players all helped to bring more attention to their sport. Coach Johnson said, “Everyone that is well known and got drafted will bring a lot of attention to the WNBA and I think that is amazing.”

Caitlin Clark is bringing a bigger fanbase to women’s basketball. The 2024 Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) draft drew in 3.09 million fans, four times as many as the previous year, according to ESPN

She has been breaking the barriers that many women feel contained in. Traditionally, men’s sports have more viewership than women’s sports, which is still true to this day, whether it’s because people believe their games are of a faster pace, more competitive, and more profitable, or because of social norms. A National Research Group (NRG) study showed that half of the surveyed sports fans watch more men’s sports than women’s sports because they grew up watching men’s sports rather than women’s sports. In addition, 40% of U.S. sports fans believed that men’s sports were more entertaining than women’s sports. 

But, Caitlin Clark has shown her skill and talent to the whole world and given them a reason to watch her — as well as women’s basketball and sports in general. Kamaili Lasua (‘27), a member of the Girls’ Basketball Varsity Team, added, “Women’s basketball is definitely going to benefit from Caitlin Clark because she is bringing so much attention to it.” 

Caitlin Clark has also inspired more girls to shine and be confident in themselves. “Caitlin Clark has inspired so many young girls,” Angela explained. “She will definitely help grow the world of, not just the WNBA, but women’s sports as a whole. Her greatness and enthusiasm will continue to inspire young athletes.” 

During an interview, Caitlin Clark’s advice to the younger generation was to, “Dream big, don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t. But you’ve got to go out there and earn it.” Caitlin Clark has worked and trained countless hours to be the player she is today, and that level of determination will continue to inspire more girls.

With Caitlin Clark’s impact and fame, the WNBA league may be able to improve their revenue, something they have struggled with in the past. She has already boosted the Iowa Hawkeyes’ popularity and could do the same at the Indiana Fever, where she was just drafted as the number one overall pick. Caitlin Clark’s jersey sold out after just one hour of being drafted to the Indiana Fever and her jersey is the top-selling jersey for any WNBA draft pick. This is a trend that has continued from her time at Iowa, as the season tickets for the Iowa’s basketball team sold out for the first time ever during the 2023-24 season. 

In 2023, the WNBA’s revenue was around $200 million, while the National Basketball Association (NBA) made $10 billion in 2022. With more media coverage and more brand deals with big stars like Caitlin Clark, she could definitely boost the WNBA’s revenue.

Increased WNBA revenue could also improve the pay gap between female and male basketball athletes. During her rookie season at the Indiana Fever, Caitlin Clark will earn $76,535 for her base salary. Number one pick Victor Wembanyama during the 2023-2024 NBA season had a base salary of $12.2 million. “Caitlin Clark has placed women’s basketball in a spotlight that was previously much dimmer… I hope that this new spotlight can also bring attention to the revenue deficit between the NBA and the WNBA,” Ayla said. 

Caitlin Clark has not only helped raise the sport of women’s basketball, but also women’s sports as a whole. Coach Johnson said, “I think she [Caitlin Clark] made everyone curious about women’s sports in general. Because the door has been open for basketball, I think it opens the door to other sports and the other athletes from other sports to help bring attention to their sport.” Caitlin Clark has impacted women all around the world, raising the attention to a sport that was once undermined.

Caitlin Clark is only 22, but she has changed the sport and influenced young girls. Even though she is still a rookie at the Indiana Fever, she has already made her mark in women’s basketball. This is the Caitlin Clark Effect.

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About the Contributor
Luming Wang
Luming Wang, Staff Writer
Luming Wang is a freshman and a staff writer for The Tower. During her freetime, Luming likes to play tennis, watch Marvel movies, and cheer on her favorite NBA team: the Golden State Warriors. Her favorite Marvel movies are “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Captain America and The Winter Soldier”. At school, Luming enjoys math and spending time with her friends. 

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