Make room WNBA, the rookies are redefining women’s basketball

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Everyone is talking about women’s basketball; we are here for it! The blogs, the sports commentators and the public are in an uproar about the WNBA 2024 rookie class, a group of 36 players who have already made their mark. Among them are high-impact players like Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, Cameron Brink, Rickea Jackson, Kate Martin, Aaliyah Edwards and Kamilla Cardoso. Their competitive drive and larger-than-life personalities have catapulted them into the role of league influencers, propelling the WNBA to new heights at a previously unimaginable pace.

Basketball fans are witnessing a remarkable transformation in the women’s game, not because the rules changed or the basket moved, but because of Caitlin Clark’s timing and her no-holds-barred attitude. She plays with an audacity familiar to, and of, league legends. Some fans have compared Clark to another Indiana favorite, Larry Bird, and although their games are not completely alike, they both play with a “You know who I am” air, and indeed, we do.

Indiana Fever tickets are selling fast, and families are pouring into stadiums nationwide to catch a glimpse of Clark. When Clark was asked about the new fans of the women’s game, she responded, “At the end of the day, that is why you play basketball, for all the young girls, even after a loss, who want a chance to see me play—us play, it just reminds me of how lucky I am, and I am forever grateful.” That appreciation for the fans reciprocates to sold-out crowds, ESPN games and an uptick in Basketball jerseys with the No. 22.

On an educational note, teachers can comfortably show how representation matters without cause for firing. The diversity in the women’s game has been a pleasure to witness and a figurative lesson in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Consequently, Clark is not the only player changing the game. Angel Reese is no regular rookie; she’s different! Her panache and mental and physical toughness have shown up for the overaggressive battles and excelled. She exudes a champion mentality, and little girls everywhere relate to the “Basketball Barbie.”

Enthusiasts wondered how the rivalries would compare in the league as opposed to college. Respectively, the Clark and Reese back and forth in the NCAA Championship game put spectators onopposing sides, Team Clark or Team Reese. Team Reese won the championship, and both players introduced a new chippy, passionate, competitive side of the women’s game.

The WNBA is realizing how lucrative contention is. The fans want to see the Clark Reese match-up, June 1 in Indiana was the first opportunity (June 16 is the next in Indiana). Individually, these rookies are hosting sold-out arenas and are shifting the population from passive spectators to active participants. In their first match-up every call was met with cheers or jeers, sports commentating, and extended time in the media.

Clark’s and Reese’s undeniable talent is matched only by the grittiness they bring to the game, sparking a new appetite for basketball that is impossible to ignore. ESPN has already started advertising the upcoming June 23 game in Chicago between the two and changed the game time to a primetime spot at 4 PM. Whether you love Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, or the media-proclaimed rivalry, the public is the beneficiary.

Another factor in the women’s basketball phenomenon is the professionalism of the young players, who have quickly turned collegiate rivalries into trusting teammates and vice versa. Chicago Sky has former opponents in Cardoso (South Carolina) and Reese (LSU), who were great to watch on opposite sides, but together, they are a force to be reckoned with. Against the Fever, Cardoso battled her former teammate, Aliyah Boston, and seemed to have an insight that frustrated Boston, but Boston prevailed, and the Fever won their first home game against the Sky.

The players are talented, passionate, spicy, and fashion-forward, giving the league all the drama needed to be discussed. The WNBA has responded to the excitement generated by the rookie class by implementing significant changes, including private travel for all teams and an increase to 36 nationally broadcast games. These changes have drawn in larger crowds and made the Indiana Fever the hottest ticket in town.