How the 'Caitlin Clark Effect' can be sustained in the WNBA

Luisa Morales - Philstar.com
How the 'Caitlin Clark Effect' can be sustained in the WNBA
Caitlin Clark arrives prior to the 2024 WNBA Draft at Brooklyn Academy of Music on April 15, 2024 in New York City.
Sarah Stier / Getty Images / AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Women’s basketball has seen a big boom in popularity in the first quarter of the year, with broadcast numbers skyrocketing in the recently concluded Women’s NCAA. The women’s championship game, for the first time in history, eclipsed the viewership of the men’s final.

Much has been said about how or why women’s basketball has been on the uptick, but for most people, the answer is simple: Caitlin Clark.

The Iowa alum may not have a national championship to show for it, but Clark has undoubtedly changed the game for women hoopers everywhere.

However, as Clark heads to the WNBA, it begs the question how far can the “Caitlin Clark Effect” really last?

Philippine media heard from Clark’s new Indiana Fever teammate and WNBA Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston in an online media availability a few days before the draft, and Philstar.com was able to ask her on how to sustain the growth of women’s basketball.

“I think that first thing first is having fan bases that love[d] them in college follow them into the league whether that’s coming to watch them play, just watching the games in general, I think that will always be something that should be a priority,” said Boston.

Indeed, it does seem to be a priority for Clark’s fans as tickets for Indiana Fever games began flying off of the shelves as soon as she declared for the 2024 NBA Draft. Yes, she hadn’t even been drafted yet, but fans were already quick to grab the chance to see her play in person.

Clark’s impact even affected her future opponents, with the Las Vegas Aces having to move their game against Clark and the Fever to a bigger venue because of how high the demand was for tickets.

Even the team hasn’t been amiss in capitalizing on Clark’s fame and virality as their merch collection was immediately up and live once Clark’s name was called on draft night. Poetic that one of the shirts had “The Clark Effect” sprawled across.

But of course, for Boston, it wasn’t just about the fans and the teams going all in on their players — rather, the players, like Clark, will need to understand that it’s a whole different ball game in the W.

For the 2023 WNBA Rookie of the Year, everything had to do with adjusting to what the league was all about. This wasn’t college anymore.

“When it comes to their game specifically, I think it all depends on the player,” said Boston. 

“Honestly, whether [you’re a] guard or post [player], being able to understand that it’s a new level of physicality that comes with it and just being able to understand that, like it’s not college where you’re playing against people that are maybe four years older than you to the max, but you’re playing against women that are 10 years older than you, [or] already have kids,” she added.

Having gone through the process before, Boston realizes that players like Clark, the rest of the top picks like Cameron Brink, Angel Reese, and any other player that goes to the WNBA will just need to continue to believe in their own skills.

While adjusting to a new environment, she advises the players to continue what they’ve been doing during their college days to hopefully keep the sport growing.

“There’s an adjustment, but if you’re confident you know that you’re there for a reason and continue to play with that confidence that you did in college, it should be okay,” she said.

For the WNBA, they can only look forward to what Clark and the rest of the 2024 draft class can bring to the table and with more players, like UConn’s Paige Bueckers still in the pipeline, the future for women’s basketball is nothing but bright.

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