Last Sunday, a historic matchup in women’s college basketball took place. Iowa and DePaul drew in a record 55,646 fans – nearly doubling the previous record of 29,619 – to Kinnick Stadium, playing a basketball game in the middle of a football field.
The spectacle itself was an idea born from the Hawkeyes’ head coach, Lisa Bulder, who hoped the extra seating would encourage more fan attendance. She was absolutely right. Iowa walked through DePaul, winning 94-72, but both teams knew they were walking away as a part of history.
On the other side of the amateur-professional spectrum of sports, the WNBA has been garnering historic attention in the midst of their finals series between the Aces and Liberty. The two teams are likely the two most talented teams in the league with All-Stars up and down the starting lineups, a three-point contest champion and the last three WNBA MVPs: Breanna Stewart, A’ja Wilson and Jonquel Jones, the former two collecting two a piece over the last six years.
The conclusion that all of this has led me to is this: for women’s basketball to continue to grow, we need bigger and better venues and we need better marketing for top talent.
Part of the reason the “Crossover at Kinnick” garnered so much attention was largely due to their star player, Caitlin Clark, the reigning AP Player of the Year and one of the biggest names in college basketball, whether it be men’s or women’s. Clark had a 31-point, 11-rebound, and 10-assist triple-double. These stat-stuffing performances have become a staple of Clark’s tenure at Iowa and a big part of the attention she’s garnered.
Regardless of how you look at it, any professional sports league needs talent to function. That’s not to say that the WNBA currently doesn’t have talent, but it’s marketed so poorly, and coverage of the league in the past has been so lackluster that when it does come up on your social media feed, you’ll check the comments and find people actively going out of their way to disrespect it.
The upcoming WNBA draft class has a huge chance to bring the WNBA more attention than ever before, of course, spearheaded by Caitlin Clark, but also accompanied by Paige Buekers of UConn, who is one of women’s basketball’s biggest social media stars with over one million followers on her Instagram page.
This class will not only bring eyes to women’s basketball but also to the WNBA, which is wisely teasing expansion. Making the league a national fixture is the next biggest move for the WNBA, putting teams in the backyards of all Americans, allowing them to go and enjoy professional women’s basketball, experiencing it further than the lens of social media.
Women’s basketball is setting the stage for the explosion of women’s sports as a whole, thanks to a bevy of new talent and better marketing. In the future, I hope to see more events like the “Crossover at Kinnick” to bring mass attention and attendance to women’s sporting events.
Logan Adams is a sophomore studying journalism. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Logan know by tweeting him @LoganA_NBA.