Caitlin Clark: Worth the Hype?

Caitlin Clark, star basketball player for the University of Iowa Hawkeyes, has been unstoppable on the court during her collegiate career. Clark, a senior, has gained a ton of media coverage over the course of her time with the Hawkeyes due to her exceptional skill, scoring, shooting, and playmaking abilities. Clark has taken the sports world by storm and is changing the narrative for women's hoops. 

Wanting to be close to home, Clark chose to commit to the University of Iowa back in 2019. Clark is a homegrown talent who grew up in West Des Moines, Iowa, and now shines for her local school. She takes pride in being able to represent her home state on her jersey every night and perform at such great levels while doing so. Who wouldn’t want to make their area proud? 

Clark’s on court performances have been anything but ordinary. We have seen a rise in points per game (PPG), assists per game (APG), and steals per game (SPG) in each of the four years of her collegiate career. This year, Clark’s senior season, she is averaging an astounding 32 PPG, 7.3 rebounds per game (RPG), and 9 APG. Being able to watch this has been a privilege. 

During the 2023-24 basketball season, Clark has set an unreal number of records. Clark set the new women's scoring record for NCAA Basketball surpassing Kelsey Plum and Pete Maravich for the all-time NCAA basketball points leader. Clark has also become the first player with three 40-point performances in the NCAA tournament, set the record for most three-point field goals in the NCAA tournament, and hit the most three-pointers in NCAAW D1 History. Yes, you read that right.  

Clark has been lighting up college basketball and sports media all season long. The hype around her has been extreme, but it’s warranted. She has led the Hawkeyes to back-to-back Final Fours and led her team to a championship appearance last season, falling short to LSU in the final. Clark has an opportunity to take her team back to the final this season to win it all. 

The broken records, the outstanding skill and shooting abilities like no other, and success speaks for themselves. The hype makes sense for those reasons alone. But what validates the hype even more is what Clark is doing for women's sports.  

I never would have thought that the current most popular athlete in the country would be a female college basketball player, and I was wrong. We all were. 

I used to scroll through my social media feeds and see tons of posts about teams, athletes, and everything sports. However, these posts weren’t about women's athletics, typically just men. The past two years, and this one specifically, that has changed. My feed is now a diverse collection of both women's and men's athletes and teams, and as of recently, it has been more of the girls.  

And this isn’t just a change we have seen on social media. Word of mouth, sports TV shows, and media members and athletes have also begun speaking about women's athletics more.  

The way people are speaking about women's athletics is changing. The amount of negativity and doubt surrounding women's athletics has been and always will be high, but recently I have been hearing and reading many positive things. The narrative is trending upwards. 

As a fan of sports, this is great to see. Who doesn’t want to watch exciting players? Who doesn’t enjoy watching dominance? Who doesn’t want everyone to get their flowers? There is a shift taking place in basketball, in media, in sports, and it’s fun to watch.  

Caitlin Clark is the main reason why this shift is occurring. Clark is electric, she plays an exciting, fun style of basketball. She is tearing it up on the court, and everyone wants to watch her deep threes and record-breaking nights.  

Clark is unreal. I’m an LSU fan, and I watched her drop 41 points against my squad the other night to advance her Hawkeyes to the Final Four. I couldn’t even be that mad while watching, she's just that good. I walked away from the TV for a minute when it was still a close game, and heard the announcer say, “and Clark shoots a three,” and I just sighed. I knew it would go in, and it did. That's how good she is.  

That LSU-Iowa game had 16.1 million total viewers tuned in to watch last year's NCAAW championship rematch. The most viewers to ever tune in to a women's basketball game. More viewers than the World Series and NBA Finals had last year. Women's sports are on the rise, and Caitlin Clark is a key contributor. 

Clark plans to join the WNBA next season, as well as Angel Reese. This recent popularity could potentially further the shift of women's sports and help grow the WNBA. The star power joining the league next year is exciting. I doubt the last time we all tuned in to a Clark-Reese matchup was in this year's Elite Eight.  

Clark is changing how we view women's sports. She’s changing what we tune in to. She’s changing how we speak about her sport.  

I have seen some criticism online and heard some in person as well regarding the amount of coverage Clark gets. Personally, I don't think there's much to criticize. Greatness gets spoken about. Record breakers get reported on. Culture shifters get coverage.  

Caitlin Clark has done enough on court to captivate her audience, the media, and professional athletes worldwide. Her skill is unmatched in college hoops right now. Not only are her on-court abilities awesome, but so is the way she is helping change the narrative.  

So, before you ask, “Is she worth the hype?” go find out for yourself. Watch her play, scroll through social media, talk to someone about women's hoops, check the stats, check the ratings, look at the change, see her impact. You’ll get why the hype is so loud.