The historic impact that Caitlin Clark has had on women’s basketball

This is an image of Caitlin Clark playing basketball.
Caitlin Clark has already had a huge impact on women's basketball and the sport is more popular than ever because of her. Photo: John McClellan

“There has never been a star that’s captured the attention of the women’s basketball world like Caitlin Clark.”

After one of the most incredible college careers in basketball history, the interest surrounding Caitlin Clark and her future is at an unprecedented high. The former Iowa Hawkeye has captivated fans both new and old through her performances. Now entering the WNBA, things are only getting hotter.

The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) has been flirting with breaking through into the pop culture pantheon for years. While the men’s league (NBA) has been one of the most watched in the world for decades, the women’s game has struggled to replicate that success. Until now, it seems.

Caitlin Clark is already breaking records

With Caitlin Clark declaring herself eligible for the 2024 WNBA Draft earlier this year, fans immediately took notice. Where she would be playing became a huge topic of conversation and that was mirrored by the record-breaking number of fans that tuned in to watch the event in April.

It’s not just on TV that fans are wanting to watch Clark, though. According to women’s sports journalist, Kerrie Jacobs-Bryant, who writes for GiveMeSport, many will be flocking to arenas this season to see her too.

“The Fever have had to move arenas because they’re trending to sell more tickets than their current venue can hold. You never see this,” she said.

“Beyond ticket sales, it’s also had a positive impact on players around the league. This season, the WNBA announced that they were going to spend more on charter flights for players than ever before. Last year, they spent $4m on them, this season, the plan is to spend around $25m.”

It’s not just the players who have benefitted from Caitlin Clark’s rise

Having joined the Indiana Fever, it’s not just Caitlin Clark’s teammates and opponents who are reaping the benefits of her popularity. In fact, the impact stretches beyond the personnel of the league and to those covering it. According to Jacobs-Bryant, who writes about both the NBA and the WNBA, her work on the women’s game has seen a significant increase in interest.

“My work on the NBA has always been much more popular than the WNBA. That’s just the way the industry has worked forever. With that said, there has definitely been a surge in interest in the content I create on the WNBA. Viewership is on the rise and I’ve been given the green light to produce more work on the league as a result.”

With all the momentum in the world behind Clark and women’s basketball as a whole, the WNBA returned this week and fans waited with bated breath to see just how well the number one pick would adapt to the professional game. There were some teething problems. With 10 turnovers, there’s no doubt about that, but after a slow start, the 22-year-old showed why she had become such a megastar, finishing the game with 20 points, three assists and two steals.

It’s a strong start for Clark. If things only get better from here, there’s no telling how much bigger the WNBA will grow.