With Caitlin Clark As The Catalyst, Iowa-South Carolina Was The Most-Watched Basketball Game Since 2019 (Period.)

Caitlin Clark Iowa

Not content to make mere ESPN history with the network’s basketball viewership record in Iowa’s win over UConn to reach the national championship game, Caitlin Clark went ahead and exploded through that phony ceiling.

Despite a disappointing loss to South Carolina in the grand finale of the women’s NCAA Tournament, Clark’s one-of-one spark generated the most interest and eyeballs in any basketball game, college or pro, in the past half-decade.

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley would’ve been forgiven for wanting the focus to remain squarely on her players, and what the Gamecocks accomplished as they capped off a perfect 38-0 season with a convincing 87-75 win.

It was pretty cool that Staley took time out during the postgame festivities to highlight Clark’s individual impact, which only brought more visibility to the extraordinary heights South Carolina has reached in winning two of the last three national championships.

The viewing numbers speak for themselves when it comes to what Clark has meant to the sport of basketball in general. It’s incredible what she’s done for the women’s game in particular, though. Her 18 first-quarter points in the national title game and her 41-point, 12-assist domination of LSU will not soon leave my brain.

In fact, if not for Clark and the Hawkeyes knocking off South Carolina in last year’s NCAA tourney, we’d probably be talking about a Gamecocks three-peat and a truly absurd winning streak of 80 some odd games.

As Clark closes the book on her collegiate career, a new chapter is about to begin. She’s a shoo-in to be the No. 1 pick in the WNBA Draft, and will join ex-South Carolina star Aliyah Boston on the Indiana Fever here soon. Can almost guarantee that every WNBA city Clark goes to, the arena will be sold out or damn near close to it. The exposure and box office star power she can generate is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

By the way: She knows.

When UConn coach Geno Auriemma compared his dominant tenure with the Huskies to Tiger Woods’ prime, he lost me. Caitlin Clark is more like Tiger in that sense, because like Tiger in his heyday, she is the needle in her lane of the sport. And the reason I’m stating that over again is because it’s been said countless times about Tiger, and will continue to be said countless times about Clark as her tenure in the pros unfolds.

Like for instance, would I be shocked if there’s more interest and/or viewership for Indiana Fever basketball next season than, say, their NBA counterpart, the Pacers? Not really. That’s wild to even put on public record, considering the Pacers have a pretty decent young squad, led by franchise guard Tyrese Haliburton. As of now, they’re a top-six seed in the Eastern Conference. They could easily be playing in the second round!

Caitlin Clark is that big already. I know I’ll be tuned in when she hits the court in Indy. Millions of others will be, too.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock