WNBA, Women's Basketball

Why is Caitlin Clark So Popular? Here’s 10 Reasons Working in Clark’s Favor

As you know Caitlin Clark is one of the most popular athletes in all of sports. Her incredible performances at Iowa, highlighted by her record-setting scoring ability and penchant for hitting deep “logo threes” have captured the attention of fans across the aisle.

According to a Seton Hall Sports Poll done in March 2024, Clark is the most recognizable player in college basketball, surpassing even top men’s players in name recognition.

The hype has followed her into the WNBA where her style of play, numerous college accolades, buzz, and “accessibility” continue to contribute to her widespread popularity and significant media coverage. Clark’s success has helped elevate the profile of women’s basketball, attracting more fans and setting record viewership. We think in part, her spectacular college performances have opened eyes to those that didn’t previously pay attention to women’s sports – we’re speaking about men.

Why is Caitlin Clark So Popular?

While Clark’s popularity is very much warranted, to those of us that have watched women’s basketball the hype around Clark is a slightly confusing considering there have been so many exciting women’s players that came before her. And some of those same WNBA players have gotten flak for speaking to the ignorance to the women’s game and for not completely jumping on the Caitlin Clark bandwagon.

Listen Clark has done amazing things in college and will be a WNBA superstar, but the insane level of buzz is a bit of a head scratcher. We’ve seen A’ja Wilson, Kahleah Copper, Chelsea Gray, Breanna Stewart, Seimone Augustus, Brittany Griner, Maya Moore and some of the best WNBA players of all-time and we think “why not them?”

There’s a lot of different answers, but we really believe it comes down to two primary factors: Men approve of Caitlin Clark and Clark isn’t Black or identify as LGBTQ+.

In any case, we wanted to dig deeper into the crazy media coverage. We used a research paper writing service, read some think pieces and came up with ten reasons we think why Caitlin Clark is so popular.

1. Long Distance Threes: Clark’s unique ability to hit long-range “logo threes” off the dribble sets her apart from other female college basketball players and brings up comparisons to Steph Curry.  Her remarkable range allows her to score from well beyond the three-point line, often near the midcourt logo. This skill not only stretches defenses but also adds an electrifying element to her game, exciting fans and putting immense pressure on opponents. Clark’s confidence and precision in taking these deep shots demonstrate her exceptional shooting prowess and contribute significantly to her popularity and impact on the game.

We know Clark’s particular skill to shoot from 35 feet out impresses men that never paid attention to the women’s game because we know that men want to watch professional athletes do amazing things and display talents that they can’t if they were to get off the couches (and even then these idiots still think they know better than pro athletes).

2. Men Approve of Clark: The biggest thing holding back women’s basketball before Caitlin Clark? It was men’s opinions of women’s basketball.

You don’t have to look much further than a random Instagram post about the WNBA to see the snarky, misogynistic, homophobic comments. And what Caitlin Clark has going for her is that – for a variety of reasons – men are impressed by her style of play; particularly her ability to shoot off the dribble from distance (see #1).

This broader male approval has helped bridge some of the gender gap in basketball viewership where over 75% of the audience are women and girls according to some old data from the WNBA. That’s certainly changed, increased interest from men have elevated the sport’s status, attracting a broader audience, and the more fans there are, the more fans they bring into the game. Clark’s talent and exciting gameplay are changing perceptions, gaining respect for women’s basketball across the board, and .

3. Historic Scoring Numbers: When in college, Clark led the NCAA in scoring three times: as a Freshman, Sophomore and as a Senior, regularly delivering jaw-dropping scoring performances. Her ability to rack up points has made her a must-watch player. As ESPN notes, her scoring average is among the highest in NCAA history, drawing comparisons to WNBA legends like Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore.

4. Triple-Double Queen: Clark wasn’t just a scorer; she was a triple-double machine. Her knack for filling the stat sheet across points, rebounds, and assists showcases her all-around game. Clark’s 17 college career triple doubles is second only to Sabrina Ionescu’s 26 career triple doubles – that record is across both male and female.

5. Clutch Performer: Clark thrives under pressure, often delivering in the clutch. Her game-winning shots and crucial plays in high-stakes moments have earned Clark a reputation as a player who shines brightest when the pressure is on.

6. Statistical Achievements: Clark has set several records, including being the first Division I player to surpass 3,000 points and 1,000 assists in her career. These NCAA milestones and her otherworldly stats are indicators of her extraordinary talent.

  • All-time NCAA Division I men’s and women’s scoring leader
  • Big Ten’s all-time leader in assists
  • Became Division I women’s career scoring leader
  • Broke Iowa’s single-game scoring record
  • All-time leader in points among major women’s college basketball players
  • Set NCAA single-season record for 3-pointers
  • Most three-pointers in a single season by any male or female Division I player
  • Passed Taylor Robertson for most career 3-pt FG in Division I history
  • Broke men’s and women’s scoring records for single NCAA tournament (2023)
  • Led Division I in assists (2023)
  • Most 30-point games by any man or woman in Division I in the past 25 seasons

7. Recognition and Awards: Clark has received numerous accolades, including Big Ten Player of the Year and multiple All-American honors. These awards are a testament to her exceptional skills and impact on the court. According to Yahoo Sports, her recognition has only fueled her popularity further.

  • Won Naismith Player of the Year (2023, 2024)
  • Unanimous Big Ten Player of the Year (2024)
  • Most Big Ten Player of the Weeks (2024)
  • Most Outstanding Player in Big Ten tournament (2024)
  • AP Player of the Year  (2023, 2024)
  • John R. Wooden Award (2023, 2024)
  • First freshman to win Dawn Staley Award (2021)
  • Big Ten Freshman of the Year (2021)

8. Clark Isn’t 6-foot-5 Caitlin Clark is 6 feet tall, which, while well above average for the general female population, is relatively modest for a basketball player. This height makes her more relatable and accessible to fans who see her as a reflection of themselves, rather than an unattainable athletic ideal.  Clark’s stature allows her to demonstrate that success in basketball is not solely about towering over opponents but also about skill, strategy, and determination. Her ability to dominate games despite not having the extreme height advantage often seen in elite players showcases her exceptional talent and work ethic. This relatability is further amplified by her dynamic play style, including her deep three-point shooting and clutch performances, which resonates with fans who admire skillful and exciting basketball.

9. Does Race and Sexuality Impact Clark’s Popularity? On the topic of being relatable. Would Clark had been this popular had she been Black and/or gay? We think so. The question is certainly worth a discussion. Some say that while her being a white, heterosexual, and a feminine-presenting woman may play a role in her visibility and media representation, others say it’s her exceptional talent, particularly her scoring ability and deep three-point shots, that drive much of her popularity. We think it’s both. Discussions on how race, sexuality and how gender presentation impacts athlete recognition are complex and nuanced, often involving broader societal and media dynamics.

10. Extensive Media Coverage: With men taking interest in Clark’s performances, she has justifiably garnered extensive media coverage, increasing her (and womens basketball’s) visibility. Major sports networks and publications frequently feature Clark, amplifying her reach. Yahoo Sports called it the Caitlin Clark Effect points out that her high-profile games and impressive highlights have made her a staple in sports media.

Caitlin Clark’s popularity is influenced by a multitude of factors. We think it’s some combination of her unprecedented three-point shooting (in women’s game), scoring records, long list of accomplishments as well as her being white, having a boyfriend, and not too tall. At the end of the day, Caitlin Clark’s popularity comes from how men have found her game acceptable to them.

 

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