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The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

OPINION: The Caitlin Clark Effect

The Indiana Fever’s crown jewel draft pick, Caitlin Clark, has made women’s basketball the hottest ticket around
Kouri Demelash

“I got kicked out of P.E. class because I was too competitive,” Clark told ESPN

The Indiana Fever’s No. 1 overall pick, Caitlin Clark, was not an ordinary child. The day that her older brother learned to ride a bike with no training wheels was the same day that Clark did, because it made her upset that he was doing something she wasn’t. 

The nuances of Clark’s attitude and mindset are special, and it categorizes her with a small group of athletes that the rest of us will never quite fully comprehend. Kobe Bryant woke up at 4 a.m. to work out; Michael Phelps swam every day for a five-year period and Tiger Woods woke up at 1 a.m when preparing for the Royal Portrush tournament in order to adjust to the time zones. Clark is wired this way, and her fierceness on the court shows it. 

The similarity of these athletes — their uber-competitive nature — warrants their success. Michael Phelps finished his career with 23 gold medals; Kobe Bryant won five championships; Tiger Woods, 82 PGA Tour Victories. 

Clark, although at a different point in her career, has indefinitely revolutionized her sport. She is the all-time Division I scoring leader with 3,951 total points and lead college basketball in points and assists-per-game this past season.

Clark doesn’t just perform — she does so with an aura. 

Clark’s greatness on the court constitutes her even larger impact within sports. The Indiana Fever, in 2023, reported an average ticket price of $60. Less than a year later, the Fever’s 2024 home-opener against the NY Liberty in May are watching ticket prices resell for well over $500 in late March. 

Alongside this, the Fever will have 36 out of their 40 regular season games nationally televised next year, whereas this year only one game was nationally televised. 

In college at Iowa University, Clark’s spree affected wherever they traveled; Northwestern sold out their first-ever women’s basketball game when Clark came to town, and schools that have hosted Iowa have seen an attendance increase of over 150% compared to their other home games on average, per AP News

Country music legend Tim McGraw repped a Clark jersey at his concert in Iowa, and Grammy-nominated rapper Travis Scott made the trip to Iowa City to meet Clark and the Hawkeyes in early March. 

Games featuring Iowa set and broke the women’s college basketball viewership record four consecutive times, with the Hawkeyes championship game against South Carolina amassing 18.7 million viewers — more than the men’s championship game. 

Even people who don’t watch sports know Caitlin Clark. Those who once mocked the women’s game are now enthralled. Clark has turned into a national phenomenon and has the hearts and attention of Americans wrapped around her fingers — but why? 

To put it simply, Clark is good. Really good. We’ve never seen anything like her before. 

Since Clark burst onto the scene in 2020, no other collegiate player has recorded a single game with 35 points and 10 assists; Caitlin Clark has done it nine times. This regular season, Clark has had a 40-point game, a 15-rebound game, a seven-steal game, seven three-pointers in a game, and a triple-double. Only one other NBA, WNBA or Division I player has done that in a season in the past 25 years: LeBron James in 2004. 

Clark holds five NCAA records, seven NCAA Tournament records, eight BIG 10 records, and five Iowa Women’s Basketball records. The truth of the matter, however, is that her largest effect comes from the eye test. 

Clark routinely shoots from well beyond 25 feet, and her successful 3-point attempts come from three-to-four feet behind the arc. Between her maneuvers, circus-like shots and killer range, the likes of only NBA guard Stephen Curry come to mind. 

She’s an incomparable collegiate player, and people are compelled by what they’ve never seen. 

Sports fans all across the world are fortunate to be entertained by great players every year. Great players excel within their domain, sell jerseys and are the face of their city; however, there are certain athletes who constitute more than just greatness and transcend the restraints of their sport. Trailblazers are generational, leaving an impact well beyond their playing days.

If a great player were to be considered a shooting star, then Caitlin Clark, surely, is a supernova.

Clark is transcending the women’s game the same way Michael Jordan transformed the NBA in the 1990’s, or the way Allen Iverson did throughout the 2000s. Young girls want to be like Clark; they now want to shoot like her, dribble like her and play with style and swagger. Thanks to her pioneering efforts, a new generation of young girls are able to feel a part of the “Clark Effect.”

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