The Caitlin Clark Experience

By: Daniel Alkana

With the first pick in the WNBA 2024 Draft, the Indiana Fever chose Caitlin Clark, the standout guard from the University of Iowa. 

Clark shattered shooting records across the NCAA during her four-year tenure at Iowa. She set the record for both men’s and women’s NCAA most 3-pointers in a single season, most career 3-pointers, most career points, along with the women’s most points in a single season and other NCAA Tournament records. 

Clark also led Iowa to back-to-back national championship games. Although Iowa lost both championships, Clark’s record-setting career garnered national media coverage, especially throughout the 2024 season, leading to the Women’s NCAA National Championship outperforming the Men’s NCAA National Championship in viewership for the first time in history with a peak of 24 million viewers. 

After completing her senior year at Iowa, Clark declared for the WNBA Draft. The Fever secured the first-round pick of the draft through a lottery in December of 2023. With Clark’s prominence, it had been widely known that she would be heading to Indiana. 

However, the impact of Clark’s 2024 season on women’s basketball fans was unprecedented. More than 6,000 fans packed the Fever’s Gainbridge Fieldhouse stadium for a draft watch party, along with 2.4 million viewers across ESPN’s televised coverage of the draft. Yet another Clark milestone set in what is being named the “Caitlin Clark Experience.”

Even with all her accolades and success, some say Clark’s biggest achievement is yet to come. After the draft, it was disclosed that Clark’s four-year contract with the Fever would earn her $338,056, with a rookie year payout of $76,500, compared to last year’s first pick of the NBA Draft Victor Wembanyama’s $12.1 million contract. 

This pay discrepancy has rekindled the conversation of the gap in pay between women’s and men’s professional basketball. 

Some believe Clark will be the light at the end of the tunnel for equality of pay, if not at least a restructure of contracts and incentives for women professional athletes. To add fuel to the pay discrepancy fire, the online sports retailer Fanatic disclosed that the Indiana Fever Clark basketball jersey had sold out within an hour of going live. 

Clark has broken records across the NCAA, brought unprecedented amounts of viewership and shed more light on social and financial discrepancies in sports. All of this without playing a professional league game of basketball yet. It is uncertain what the future holds for Clark in the WNBA; however, it is certain that the Indian Fever, sports fans and America could finally have their “Michael Jordan” of women’s sports.