The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

Women’s basketball: A new frontier in women’s sports

Photo courtesy of
(Left to right) Paige Bueckers, Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese: Three stars in this year’s NCAA season

On April 7, the women’s collegiate national championship featured a matchup between the Iowa Hawkeyes, led by all-time collegiate basketball scoring leader Caitlin Clark, and the undefeated South Carolina Gamecocks, coached by Dawn Staley. In this matchup, ultimately accumulating 18.9 million viewers worldwide, South Carolina was crowned national champions, providing a riveting end to the most historic and most-watched season in women’s basketball history.

Earlier this year Clark’s name started sweeping headlines as she grew closer to becoming the all-time leading scorer in college basketball history. As Clark began appearing in commercials, naturally more viewers started to recognize the name and eventually tuned in to Iowa’s games.

According to, throughout the season there was a 37 percent increase in viewership across the board for all women’s NCAA games and an 89 percent increase in national championship viewership.

To put these numbers into perspective, the men’s national championship drew 14.8 million viewers, garnering less views than the women’s championship for the first time in history. Iowa’s final four matchup against UConn where Clark faced her long time rival, Paige Bueckers, drew 14.2 million views drawing in more fans than any World Series matchup or NBA Finals game in 2023.

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert has seen this change coming for years. She knows it’s the WNBA’s turn in the spotlight now. Keeping fans engaged in women’s basketball has remained her steadfast objective since she took over the league in 2019. In an interview with Hi’s Eye, Engelbert shared perhaps the most important indicator that the WNBA is using this momentum for a new wave of projected success. “Everyone is talking about women’s basketball.”

Engelbert has been working tirelessly to draw fans in since 2019 but they were missing a key ingredient. According to Engelbert, there is a three-step process of not only how to draw fans in, but market women’s sports in general: “Big names, rivalries and games with consequence.” Games with consequence and rivalries within the league are not new, but adding names like Clark, Stanford’s Cameron Brink and LSU’s Angel Reese only added to the already impressive quality of the game.

This change has also been happening behind the scenes. Not only has the WNBA raised $75 million in capital to reach their desired fan base, they have also hired social media managers and engineers to establish their brand on a new level. Now, it is easier than ever to become a fan and even easier now to stay engaged in the sport.

Fans want to watch compelling games and Engelbert knows that access and convenience are a key step in the process. She has worked with national broadcasting services like ESPN who will nationally televise 36 of the 40 Indiana Fever games this coming season, and on April 15 they drafted Clark first overall in the WNBA draft.

Women’s sports media coverage before 2023 was only five percent of all sports content and coverage. This percentage has tripled as Engelbert has also been able to double the percentage of corporate sponsorships that support women’s teams. The impact of players like Clark, Reese and Brink and the hard work of the WNBA organization is literally, “moving the needle.” This change is not only momentous, but Engelbert knows there are no signs of this slowing down anytime soon.

Engelbert proudly recounted an anecdote from a parent of a young boy playing basketball in his driveway and draining a three pointer shouting “Caitlin Clark for three,” emotional about the impact that the 2023-2024 women’s collegiate basketball season had not just on young women, but young athletes all over the world.

While the popularity and passion this season created may never be replicated, the impact on young athletes everywhere makes it clear that names like Clark will be around for a long time.

Senior Erin Doherty, captain of the girls basketball team this past winter, shared that seeing these college athletes take center stage has made a real impression on her and her teammates. “Since I have played basketball my whole life, I understand the work ethic and determination that someone has to have to be the best, so I think that women’s basketball finally getting some recognition is definitely well deserved,” she said.

A new chapter has started in the world of women’s basketball and women’s athletics. It is clear that this change in the game will last a lifetime and women’s sports have broken new ground.

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    Richard walshApr 19, 2024 at 10:44 am

    You are absolutely right that Woman’s’ basketball is on the rise. It is more fun to watch than Pro basketball and is on an equal to Mend’ college basketball . Great article