Flagrant Foul: When sports entities use Caitlin Clark to DISS women’s basketball, WNBA

Women’s basketball has been on everyone’s lips as of late the last few years. And while we are gladly welcoming the increase in eyes and cameras on the women’s game, many of these media outlets have only been able to consistently name one player that comes to mind when thinking of women’s basketball. 

That player is, of course, Caitlin Clark – Iowa superstar and consensus No. 1 overall WNBA draft pick of the Indiana Fever. 

And while the discourse around Clark has certainly ranged at times from encouraging for the women’s game long term to over the top, there is a point in the discourse surrounding Clark and her greatness where it displays certain sports outlets could care less about growing the women’s game. 

Exhibit A: The recent offer Clark received from Ice Cube to participate in his Big3 league. The offer that Clark received was in the range of $5 million for her to be part of Cube’s Big3. Cube had the audacity of cloaking his astroturf offer with the faux promise of wanting to grow the women’s game. 

Firstly – anyone who follows the Big3 understands that it runs concurrent to the WNBA season. 

Secondly – anyone looking to do any future endorsement deals with Clark probably would not be enamored with the idea of her playing for the lesser-ballyhooed Big3 than within the WNBA. 

Thirdly – There is now a possibility that Clark could be on the U.S. Olympic team. USA Basketball will hold a training camp in early April in Cleveland and she is slated to be one of the participants. This year’s Final Four will also emanate from the same city and there is a chance Clark’s Hawkeyes could be one of the participants. 

Cube’s offer to Clark has nothing to do with wanting to grow the women’s game – and everything to do with him trying to hop aboard the Caitlin Clark gravy train and generate interest in his struggle bus summer league. 

If Cube sincerely wanted to grow the women’s game, he would have either invested money into a WNBA expansion franchise, invested money into his hometown Los Angeles Sparks (who sorely need the money right now) or established a separate women’s version of the Big3 (perhaps featuring noteworthy names from Athletes Unlimited). 

Another faux offer Clark has on the table happens to be from – of all entities – Barstool. Yep. The same Barstool that has dibbled and dabbled in sexism and racism since its founding. The only time one ever sees Barstool tweeting about women’s sports is when they rank NFL and college football cheerleaders on their…you know. 

Dave Portnoy, the chief ‘Stool pigeon, has offered $10 million to Clark to play in a Barstool intramural league. Also – more than likely, Clark would be playing alongside….you guessed it….male ballers. 

Portnoy and the ‘Stool pigeons that populate that corner of sports social media that follows that embarrassment of a sports media operation are some of the same folks who have latched onto the “Protect Women’s Sports” banner which is nothing more than an excuse to discriminate against transgender athletes. 

So…their logic is essentially that transgender athletes should not be allowed to compete in women’s sports – but a woman in Clark should be permitted to compete alongside men. If that is not peak Barstool, we do not know what is. 

But here is the sad truth of both the Cube and Portnoy attention-seeking offers. They both have one common target in mind. 

The WNBA. 

In the corner of social media whose followers are those who blindly worship the ‘Stool pigeons (because they cater to mostly male fans whose pronouns might as well be LCD and SDE) their conversation has already shifted to how Clark would do…in the NBA as opposed to the W. 

Not to mention, the offers are a sly way for these folks to rejuvenate the tired argument about how Clark would lose NIL money by going into the WNBA. 

Yes…Clark would be on a rookie contract for the first three years of her career in the W which averages to around roughly $70,000. But she has already made a truckload of money through NIL and she more than likely will make even more in endorsements once she begins her career with the Fever. 

Also, the “how would Caitlin Clark do in the NBA” hot takes are sexist in themselves because it insinuates that the W is, in some way, shape or form, a downgrade from the NBA. 

Once upon a time, Brittney Griner was also the subject of the “she’s so good she should be in the NBA” dreck when she was transitioning out of her days at Baylor into the W. Let us be honest, though. Much of that did not have as much to do with BG’s play on the court as it did male-oriented media outlets slandering her for her appearance and how she speaks. 

Not to mention when a tweet from the official Big 3 compared Clark to Billie Jean King. 

Those are the types of tweets that will turn fans – particularly Black fans – against Clark real quick. Because many in the mainstream media are attaching “Great White Hope” status to Clark that she herself did not ask for. And we remember it was the same for Sabrina Ionescu in 2020 prior to her being drafted by the New York Liberty. 

Some of that for Ionescu was muted by the pandemic, but that was canceled out because of the juggernaut that is the New York media machine.

The point is Black fans of women’s basketball probably feel a bit ill seeing the adulation and praise for Clark (while warranted) not duplicated for recent talents such as Rhyne Howard and Aliyah Boston – generational players in their own rights. Will we see this in 2027 when JuJu Watkins, MiLaysia Fulwiley and Hannah Hidalgo are where Clark is today? 

And fans of all colors have to feel even more ill when bandwagon fly-by-night entities like Barstool and the Big 3 are looking to hop aboard the Caitlin Clark gravy train yet cloaking it in the “grow the game” mantra solely because it is good PR to say so. 

To grow the game is one thing….but how can you grow the game – by subliminally throwing shade on the very game they claim to want to grow?