Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Sunday, April 14
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

COLUMN: A reminder to celebrate and praise all women’s college basketball athletes on the court

opwomensbasketball013024.jpg

The first ever IU women’s basketball game I attended was in 2012. It was also the first time I'd ever watched the sport of basketball. I vaguely remember the names of all the players now at the age of 19; I can only recall that the players with the numbers five and 10 were talented and that some of the players were tall. 

Even though the team didn’t play particularly well, and I hated it whenever I made an appearance on the jumbotron, I began to enjoy going to the games and becoming acclimated to the sport.  

I, along with many other fans, became a lot more invested in basketball when Tyra Buss joined the team in 2014. She was the first of a line of players that revived the program, along with the introduction of head coach Teri Moren. There was Brenna Wise and Ali Patberg, and most recently Mackenzie Holmes and Sydney Parrish, just to name a few. 

Fast forward to 2023 and attendance records are now broken game after game for the Hoosiers.  

And IU isn’t the only place where more people are giving long overdue attention and praise to the women’s basketball team. 

Iowa has had a recent streak of legendary players that commentators can’t stop talking about. It started with Megan Gustafson, then Monika Czinano.  

And now, it’s all about Caitlin Clark. 

Everyone is talking about Clark and thus women’s basketball at large. She has a talent that’s extremely hard to come by. By now, I think we all know that Clark is one of the best players in the nation. We know she’s special, we know she can shoot the ball from insanely far distances and we know she’s accrued over 15 triple-doubles. Not to mention, she now holds the college scoring record of 3,685 points. Pete Maravich previously held with record with 3,667 points. 

She has drawn thousands of fans to see her play at games around the country. When the Indiana women’s basketball team went to play in Iowa, there was a sold-out crowd. When Iowa went to Ohio State, there was a sold-out crowd. Wherever she goes, loads of people are understandably eager to watch her play.  

As Clark excels, she is drawing more attention to women’s basketball and is helping more people realize how much the sport has to offer. It's not all about men’s college basketball games or the NBA anymore. More fans are becoming invested in women’s basketball, largely because of her. Hopefully the sport will continue to receive this type of national attention it has always deserved. 

While I believe Clark deserves praise and admiration, I also have been frustrated by the simultaneous lack of attention other stars in the league have received. There have been plenty of other phenomenal female college basketball athletes who have shined, but it appears they don’t always get the credit they are due, especially in the national media. 

For example, Ohio State University’s Jacy Sheldon helped her team reach their first Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA for the first time in 30 years in 2023, and she was a regional finalist for the WBCA Coaches’ All-America Team in 2022. 

Purdue University’s Abbey Ellis has put on a show in college by scoring 1,511 career points and making 156 total 3-pointers.  

Here at IU, we are lucky enough to have been graced by the presence of now WNBA Grace Berger and the new IU scoring record-holder Mackenzie Holmes. Berger was the seventh pick in the 2023 draft, and averages 4.2 points per game playing for the Indiana Fever. In her career at IU, Berger ranked seventh all-time in points scored, with 1,841 points. She also had 583 assists, second all-time. 

Some may not realize how awe-inspiring these players are because they only hear Clark’s name. If you turn on the television to watch women’s college basketball, you’re likely to hear Clark’s name even if she is not playing on the court or even see a non-stop Clark cam in the middle of one of Iowa’s basketball games. 

Again, we get it; Clark can consistently score 30 points a game while also playing killer defense and getting steals. But, there are others who are shining on the court as well and deserve recognition. 

Long story short, commentators center the sport too much around Clark. The media should aim to center their attention around all female athletes. It’s not fair to some other amazing players out there who are also deserving of national attention. Seeing all the attention on Caitlin Clark makes me wonder whether people are focused on her rather than the sport as a whole. 

When Clark graduates, will women’s games draw a similar numbers of fans, or will attendance go back to how it used to be before Clark? Are people showing up only for Clark, or are they truly committed to giving the entirety of women’s basketball and its arsenal of top players a fighting chance? 

This column is not meant in any way to diminish Clark’s successes but simply to ensure that her contributions continue to help women’s college basketball flourish even after she leaves and enters the WNBA. 

If the media focuses on all athletes, not just Cailtin Clark 90% of the time, the sport has a greater chance of maintaining its popularity, even after Clark graduates.  

Women's basketball will still be just as interesting and important; it’s not going away anytime soon. 

Isabella Vesperini (she/her) is a sophomore majoring in journalism and minoring in Italian. 

Get stories like this in your inbox
Subscribe