Caitlin Clark (holding the basketball) broke the NCAA women’s basketball record for career points, on Feb 15. (Courtesy of CNN Business)
Caitlin Clark (holding the basketball) broke the NCAA women’s basketball record for career points, on Feb 15. (Courtesy of CNN Business)

Caitlin Clark: Revolutionary in the world of sports

NCAAW record breaker has brought an influx of attention to women’s basketball

If you told younger me about Caitlin Clark’s impact on women’s sports, let alone the world of sports, I would tell you that you were crazy. It’s men’s games that are shown at prime time on TV, celebrities sit courtside at their games and their players are even paid more. Men dominate the world of sports — and at Wake Forest it feels no different.

As a Wake Forest student, I notice the disparity between men’s and women’s sports. The McCreary Football Complex is the talk of campus with millions of dollars going into its creation, while most students don’t even know that our women’s golf team won the national championship this past year. These inequalities exist throughout the world of sports, but that narrative is changing with Caitlin Clark. 

At the professional level, the NBA averaged 1,712,000 viewers last year per game broadcast while the WNBA only averaged 505,000 viewers in 2023. There is still work to be done to catch up to the average viewership of NBA games, but it’s important to note that this number is record breaking for the WNBA.

If we want to understand the influx of attention to women’s basketball, we must look at the collegiate level. Iowa-native Clark makes waves in her home state at sold out home games, and crowds of people of all ages line up to get her autograph. She is a celebrity in Iowa — but her notability spans farther than Iowa City. 

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As a New Jersey native, I noted that the Rutgers vs. Iowa game on Jan. 5 was completely sold out in New Brunswick. Not only does Clark sell out home games, but she causes sellouts at games in different states. 

Women’s basketball is awesome.

— Caitlin Clark

Averaging an impressive 32.8 points per game, Clark set out on a mission to claim the scoring record this season. Fans thought that she would break the scoring record against Nebraska, so tickets sold for as high as $1,666. Clark did not disappoint fans and put up 31 points, which made the scoring title only 8 points away. But it was in Iowa’s game against Michigan that Clark claimed the scoring title. Clark scored a towering 49 points against Michigan. 

With this, Clark will continue to set new records throughout the remainder of this season. 

The record was previously held by Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum. For Plum, this achievement is more than just basketball. It’s about women supporting one another. Plum urges fans and critics alike to take “time to understand that [Clark] is not just a basketball player but a young woman with feelings and emotions.” With the support of her predecessors before her, Clark is paving the way for female athletes to be honored and not scrutinized like women before her. 

My former collegiate-basketball-playing sister recently remarked that “[Clark] is literally everything I ever wanted to be as a basketball player. She’s incredible.” Everyone — young girls and 28-year-old sisters alike — has fallen victim to “Clark Mania.” 

She is the “it girl” who is revolutionizing the world of sports. 

One can only hope that this attention will one day come to women’s sports at Wake Forest. In this world, we do everything we can to uplift and support these women at a student level, attending women’s sports games, and at the university level, increasing funding and hype around these players. “Women’s basketball is awesome,” Clark said after Iowa’s impressive win over Maryland. Women’s sports are awesome, and they are finally getting the recognition that they deserve. This recognition starts with Caitlin Clark.

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