Home The Caitlin Clark Effect: Attention on the WNBA is good, but not this kind of attention

The Caitlin Clark Effect: Attention on the WNBA is good, but not this kind of attention

Chris Graham
deflated basketball
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The WNBA is getting more attention than ever, and going by the old P.T. Barnum line, write whatever you want about me, just spell my name right, this should be a good thing, correct?

Um, no, it’s not.

You’d want the attention on the quality of the product, but what the WNBA is getting instead is attention on the pettiness of veteran players who don’t like that the masses are only starting to notice the league because of a rookie, and attention on the social-justice warriors on the left and Neanderthals on the right who have decided to use Caitlin Clark as a rag doll for their pettiness.

Here’s where I need to be up front: I’ve only been paying close attention to women’s basketball since I first ran across Caitlin Clark highlights from an Iowa game from last season.

I want to be clear there; I’m a newbie.

I don’t think of myself as one of the Neanderthals or anything, but sorry, I just haven’t been able to get much out of the women’s basketball product, though I concede that plenty of folks do, and for those that have been on the women’s hoops train for years, I feel ya.

What I like about Clark’s game is, and this is going to sound awful to some of y’all, but again, being honest here, she plays like a dude.

She’s a 6-foot point guard in a league with post players in some cases (Angel Reese being one example) just a couple of inches taller.

I like her swagger – shooting threes from anywhere, seeing passes that others can’t see and splitting defenses with lasers.

There’s a lot of Steph Curry to her game, and I’m a big Steph Curry fan.

So, yes, admittedly, unashamedly, I’m not a WNBA fan, but I’m a huge Caitlin Clark fan.

Her impact on the WNBA business is obvious – TV ratings are up, ticket sales are up, with an obvious Caitlin Clark Effect at play.

This is where the veterans who make the point that, hey, we spent years building this league, and now she’s getting all the hype, need to recognize something.

A rising tide lifts all boats, as it did after Magic Johnson and Larry Bird entered the NBA in the 1979 draft, and took a league that was barely on TV to the next level and beyond.

The same thing happened with pro golf when Tiger Woods came on the scene in the mid-1990s.

Tiger is the better equivalency to Clark than Magic and Larry, because Tiger, as a Black man in a White sport, got the kind of pushback that Clark, a White woman in a (mostly) Black sport, is getting.

Young Tiger Woods, winning The Masters as a 21-year-old by 12 strokes in 1997, didn’t have to deal with social media, but that’s not to say that there wasn’t just plain stupidity going on around him back then, like we’re seeing going on around Caitlin Clark in the here and now.

Remember Fuzzy Zoeller “congratulating” Woods on his win by calling him a “little boy,” and saying he hoped Woods didn’t put “fried chicken” or “collard greens, or whatever the hell they serve” on the menu for the ceremonial Masters champ dinner?

Funny thing there is, because of the eyeballs that Woods brought to golf, Fuzzy Zoeller and the rest of the PGA Tour made gobs more money than they did before Woods was on the scene.

The same thing is about to happen, we can hope, for the WNBA.

The only thing that would seem to be in the way is the league running off people like me, who are new to the product, with the nonsense.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham, the king of "fringe media," is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].