Caitlin Clark Has Transformed Women’s Basketball… and Gotten Hate From Other Women

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

The popularity of women’s basketball has reached historic levels with record ratings and interest in the game thanks in large part to the influence of Iowa phenom Caitlin Clark.

The senior just wrapped up her collegiate career with a trip to the NCAA Women’s Championship game, where her Hawkeyes came up short against the undefeated South Carolina Gamecocks. But the consensus is that her legacy will be felt for years, if not decades, to come. Even so, there are those who have chosen to downplay the impact of Clark’s star power on the sport. 

On Monday’s show, Megyn was joined by Stu Burguiere, host of BlazeTV’s Stu Does America, and Dave Marcus, columnist for The Daily Mail and Fox News, to discuss the hate Clark has received – largely from women – and the scope of her influence on the game.

Clark’s Critics

While Megyn is, admittedly, not the biggest sports fan, even she could not ignore what Clark has done for women’s basketball and athletics as a whole. “She’s become this huge star because she’s amazing,” she said. “She is getting all this attention, and some nasty press reporters and others are upset about it.”

As Megyn covered last week, USA Today columnist Lindsay Schnell wrote a piece at the beginning of the March Madness tournament about why “women’s basketball needs faces of future to be Black.”

She lamented the prowess of white players in recent years. “Over the past few years, as women’s basketball has exploded in popularity, much of the media and marketing attention has focused on three prominent white players: Clark, UConn junior Paige Bueckers and Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu, who graduated in 2020,” Schnell wrote. 

And she lauded the rise of a new class of Black women in the sport. “[JuJu] Watkins, the nation’s second leading scorer this season behind Clark, is positioned to become the face of women’s basketball. She’ll be joined by Notre Dame point guard Hannah Hidalgo, the other favorite for freshman of the year,” Schnell explained. “Not lost on any of the powerbrokers in the game: Both of these players are Black. And in a game built by Black women, it matters that the faces of the future look like the faces of the past.”

Former ESPN host Jemele Hill, meanwhile, criticized the attention Clark has received at the expense of Black players like A’ja Wilson and Aliyah Boston. “Caitlin Clark seems to be a great personality, but it is not like Caitlin Clark is walking around saying crazy stuff. They’re just covering her excellence, and that’s good enough,” she told UPROXX. “Whereas it feels like for Black athletes to get the same amount of coverage or even fair coverage, there has to be something extra [beyond basketball].”

All the while, former Kansas player Lynette Woodard — the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) large-school leading scorer with 3,649 total career points — made headlines for seemingly shading Clark’s scoring record. 

At the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association convention in Cleveland on Saturday, Woodward was filmed saying, “I’ll just go ahead and get the elephant out of the room: I don’t think my record has been broken because you can’t duplicate what you’re not duplicating. Unless you come with a men’s basketball and a 2-point shot, hey, you know.”

Megyn called the comments “ungracious,” and Woodard later tried to clarify her remarks on social media – though she stopped short of issuing an apology. “My message was: a lot has changed, on and off the court, which makes it difficult to compare statistical accomplishments from different eras,” she wrote in part. “Caitlin holds the scoring record.”

Clark’s Legacy

What makes the criticism so interesting, Burguiere said, is how it wasn’t that long ago that women’s sports would have killed for this kind of attention. “I grew up in Connecticut around the time that UConn became a national powerhouse in both men’s and women’s basketball,” he recalled. “And people were demanding your attention for women’s basketball.”

In his view, what Clark has accomplished transcends that. “She has changed the game because she’s an incredibly amazing player – it has nothing to do with her personality,” Burguiere explained. “Never in my life would I have imagined that I would care more about the women’s basketball Final Four than the men’s, and that is exactly where I was this year… solely because of her.”

Someone who did have Clark’s back? Lebron James. “If you don’t rock with Caitlin Clark game you’re just a FLAT OUT HATER,” he posted on X. “Stay far away from them people!! PLEASE.” Megyn said James got it right. “Right on,” she concluded. “Honestly, I think the words [those women] are looking for are ‘thank you’… That’s what they should be saying to Caitlin.”

You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Burguiere and Marcus by tuning in to episode 760 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.