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How Caitlin Clark is Changing the Game for Women’s Basketball

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SJSU chapter.

On April 15, the Indiana Fever selected Caitlin Clark as the first overall pick in the WNBA draft. Along with being selected first overall, Cailtin Clark has been making strides in the sports industry for many years. Not only has she become an inspiration for girls everywhere, but she is paving the way for future female athletes to strive for bigger and better things. 

Over the last four years, Clark has broken countless records as a point guard for the University of Iowa’s NCAA women’s basketball team. In a news release honoring Clark’s accomplishments with the university, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley said that, “she has become one of history’s most influential women in sports.”  

In her final season at Iowa, she became the all-time leading scorer in NCAA history, across both men’s and women’s, with 3,921 career points. She also became the first Division 1 player to exceed 3,000 points, 1,000 assists, and 800 rebounds. Not to mention, she is the only D1 female basketball player to lead the league in both assists per game and points per game during a single season. 

In honor of her record-breaking stats, she has been awarded every major player of the year award throughout four seasons in the NCAA, including AP Player of the Year, the Honda Sports Award, the John R. Wooden Award, Naismith College Player of the Year, USBWA National Player of the Year, and the Wade Trophy.

Following the WNBA draft, Clark signed a four-year contract for $338,000 with the Indiana Fever, which shocked fans and viewers alike. To put this into perspective, the first overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft signed a four-year contract for $55 million.

People across the internet were outraged, arguing that a highly decorated player like Clark deserves to be paid a lot more money. Even President Joe Biden spoke out on the issue, saying, “right now we’re seeing that even if you’re the best, women are not paid their fair share.”

This is an unfortunate reality that many professional female athletes have to accept. The pay gap is still alive and well, and it’s no question that the sports industry has a long way to go before reaching gender equality. Luckily there’s a silver lining. After the WNBA draft, Clark’s image, name, and likeness were estimated at a value of $3 million. 

She has already signed endorsement deals with brands like Gatorade and State Farm, and is in the process of signing an eight-year sponsorship and sneaker deal with Nike for an estimated $28 million. Although her salary is less than adequate for her talents, she luckily has other opportunities to make money.

There is no doubt that Caitlin Clark has made an incredible impact on women’s sports, and she will continue to do so for many years to come. You can tune in to watch her first WNBA game with the Indiana Fever on May 3!

How have athletes like Caitlin Clark changed your perception of women in sports? Let us know @HerCampusSJSU!

Hannah is a fourth-year student at San Jose State majoring in Public Relations with an emphasis in Journalism. Outside of class, she can be found reading cheesy romance novels, studying at local coffee shops, shopping at Target, or rewatching her favorite TV shows.