Women’s basketball is on the rise

Women’s basketball’s popularity is on the rise due to the newest college stars
Women’s basketball’s popularity is on the rise due to the newest college stars
Gracie Mongno

Over the last few years with the rise of new college stars, women’s college basketball has become more and more prevalent in the sports world. The epicenter of this rise in popularity is the new stars of women’s basketball, beginning with Iowa’s Caitlin Clark. Over her four years at Iowa, Caitlin Clark has averaged 28.4 points per game, which is an NCAA women’s record. Not to mention, Clark also holds the record for points scored in a season with 3,951 for both men’s and women’s basketball. She has the record for three-pointers in a season, per game, and career three-pointers. The records go on and on, and that has brought a lot of attention to this game.

Last year’s national championship game kickstarted a rivalry between LSU and Iowa during the national championship game. So, when LSU and Iowa faced off against each other in the Elite Eight this past season, there were an average of 12.3 million viewers, an all time record for a women’s basketball game and the most viewed game in all of sports besides NFL games over the past year. However, Iowa and LSU had their record broken just four days later, as the Iowa vs. UConn game averaged 14.2 million viewers. Once again, the record was broken just two days later by Iowa vs. South Carolina in the championship game with an average of 18.9 million viewers, the most watched basketball game (men’s, women’s, professional, and NCAA included) in the last 5 years. To put it in perspective, from 1995-2022 the average viewership from the national championship game was about 4.04 million viewers, while the last two national championships averaged 355% more.
The WNBA draft was April 15th where Caitlin Clark, who was widely expected to be the first pick, was taken first overall by the Indiana Fever.

Rajan Gandhi ‘26 says, “The good players from this class have made the game a lot more popular and caused the game to grow.”

The popularity of the game has started with the class of 2020 high school recruiting class, which includes Caitlin Clark (Iowa), Reese (LSU), Cameron Brink (Stanford), Paige Bueckers (UConn), and Kamila Cardoso (South Carolina). Bueckers is the only player of these who is returning to play college basketball, but this class has changed the game forever.


The Las Vegas Aces have set a WNBA record as the first team to sell out their season tickets. The Indiana Fever were the third-worst team in the WNBA last season, and yet, 36/40 of their games will be televised, the most out of any WNBA team. According to the LA Times, last season in a game between the LA Sparks and Indiana Fever, it cost under $16 for a family of four to go to the game, meanwhile, this year it will cost between $448 and $560.

This generation of women’s basketball players, combined with the current digital age with social media has transformed the game of women’s basketball completely.

Clark said, “I hope it is the young boys and young girls that are inspired to play this sport or dream to do whatever they want to do in their lives” (USA Today).

A big topic in the women’s basketball world right now is the pay difference between the NBA and WNBA. Over her four year contract in Indiana, she will be making $338,056. To compare, over four years Victor Wembanyama (first overall pick in 2023) is getting paid $51.4 million. The argument on the other side is that the WNBA is not as far along as the NBA and does not get as many views. The NBA’s average salary in their 28th season was $130,000 which is equivalent to $694,071.11 in today’s money. WNBA’s average salary last season was $147,745. However, the average attendance for the NBA finals in 1977 was 15,602 people, while last year’s WNBA finals average attendance was 13,631. So, the numbers are very similar, and though the pay may be different, the actual views and attendance is not, and so the WNBA players should be paid a lot more. But, because of the WNBA’s new stars, pay is in fact expected to increase more and hopefully get to a point where the WNBA players are at least getting paid what they deserve.

With the first game of the WNBA season on May 14th, it marks a new generation of women’s basketball with these players at the helm.

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