COLUMN: Why you should have always cared about women’s basketball


DALLAS, TEXAS: Angel Reese #10 of the LSU Lady Tigers reacts towards Caitlin Clark #22 of the Iowa Hawkeyes during the fourth quarter during the 2023 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament championship game at American Airlines Center on April 02, 2023 in Dallas, Texas. Photo by Maddie Meyer | Getty Images

When Iowa guard Caitlin Clark made history with the first 40-point triple-double in the Elite Eight against Louisville, she grabbed people’s attention and made them see what women’s sports is about. 

Because of this, the NCAA women’s basketball tournament made waves this year, with more people paying attention than ever before.

In terms of viewership, the championship game between Iowa and Louisiana State was the most viewed Division I women’s basketball game of all time. The Elite Eight matchup of Iowa versus Louisville had more viewers than any NBA game this season.    

But why are people suddenly more intrigued? 

One answer is Clark. She had one of the best tournament showings of all time. Along with the history-making performance against Louisville, she also broke other records including most points ever in the NCAA tournament (mens or womens) with 191, most three-pointers in a NCAA women’s championship with eight and was named AP Player of the Year, along with many other accolades. 

But this isn’t the first time Clark has done this. She hasn’t just started pulling up from the logo and nailing three-pointers, and she didn’t just start putting up crazy numbers. In fact, she has been dominating at the guard position since she began, winning the Dawn Staley Point Guard of the Year award for three consecutive years. 

Her numbers for the last three years are almost identical, averaging over 26 points per game since her freshman year. People just realizing Clark's talent need to catch up. 

And if you think that Clark is the first player to have this big of an impact on the game, start paying a little more attention because, while she is one of the greatest ever, there are players who came before her that changed the way we see women’s basketball. 

South Carolina's Aliyah Boston, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft, was one of Clark's competitors this year and was the reigning AP Player of the Year. She raked in awards all throughout her 2022 season, averaging a double-double with 16.8 points and 12.5 rebounds a game while also putting up 90 total blocks. 

Just two years ago, UCONN guard Paige Bueckers was taking women’s basketball by storm in her freshman year; she averaged 20 points, 5.8 assists and 4.9 rebounds a game. She was unstoppable beyond the three-point line, and her shifty dribbling moves made her a dominant force as only a freshman. Unfortunately, Bueckers has been sidelined due to injury for the past two years, but she will make her return to college basketball next year.  

The list of players goes on, from Arike Ogunbowale and Sue Bird to Diana Taurasi, Breanna Stewart and so many more. There have always been playmakers in women’s basketball, so why are you just paying attention now?

As the madness has come to an end, remember the amazing performances that we saw throughout the tournament and keep the momentum going in a positive direction. This tournament didn’t show us that women could play -- people who have been paying attention have already known that -- this tournament showed us that people are just now starting to recognize that talent.  

However, there seems to be a lot of attention on the wrong thing, the drama. 

At the end of the championship game when LSU defeated Iowa, trash-talking and player etiquette was the topic of conversation, not the performance of the newly crowned champions. With seconds left in the championship game, Tigers forward Angel Reese was trash-talking and waving her hand in front of Clark, mocking the Iowa guard’s behavior earlier in the tournament. 

This caused all the controversy with everyone wanting to share why their opinion was right. However, there is no reason to focus on it. Why is that the conversation we are having when LSU scored 102 points in the championship game, when Reese broke the record for most double-doubles in a season, and when Jasmine Carson came off the bench to drop 21 points in the first half?

It's because people don’t like to see confident women. They don’t like it when women don’t stay in the small box that society has created and labeled as having “class.” Reese, Clark and other players are refusing to stay in that box. 

People want to send the narrative that women are going against each other or that there is some kind of “beef” between the two, when they both denied it. Stop looking for a reason to spread hate and portray women athletes as “classless” or “disrespectful". I can guarantee you male athletes have done way worse when it comes to those acts. People are just not used to a woman doing it and showing her power.

In fact, in the men's championship of this year, UCONN's Donovan Clingan, waved at San Diego State players and fans to taunt the Aztecs. There was almost no coverage of him doing that and if there was, in no way was his action labeled "classless" and was instead celebrated. 

The bottom line is women’s sports have always been interesting, people just didn’t want to care. Well, now that Clark and Reese have your attention, keep paying attention -- not because they waved their hands in their faces, but because these players are going to forever have an impact on the way we see the game.