What’s the Real Reason Caitlin Clark Was Snubbed From the Olympics?

As the WNBA’s Caitlin Clark continues to face discrimination on the court for being white and straight, another outrage has occurred that has many scratching their heads. On Saturday, it was announced that she didn’t make the roster for the USA women’s basketball Olympic team for the games in Paris.

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Does this make any sense to you?

According to Christine Brennan of USA Today, the U.S. women’s Olympic basketball team is “the most dominant and successful team in the world.” The last time they lost a game was 1992. Yet, despite that success, she explains, the U.S. women’s basketball players are largely ignored in favor of gymnasts, swimmers, runners, and, of course, soccer players. Having Clark on the team would certainly attract viewers the same way her games in the WNBA have generated the highest ratings for the league. 

Chances are you’ve heard of Caitlin Clark before, but not the player who body-checked her out of jealousy last week. Heck, I can’t even remember the other player’s name. That’s how big Caitlin Clark is. Her presence in the WNBA likely marks the league’s best chance to grow its fanbase.

So, why not have Clark at the Olympics? Well, according to Brennan, there’s an explanation being given for Clark’s snub.

Two other sources, both long-time U.S. basketball veterans with decades of experience in the women’s game, told USA TODAY Sports Friday that concern over how Clark’s millions of fans would react to what would likely be limited playing time on a stacked roster was a factor in the decision making. If true, that would be an extraordinary admission of the tension that this multi-million-dollar sensation, who signs autographs for dozens of children before and after every game, has caused for the old guard of women’s basketball. The two people spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

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Brennan doesn’t seem to buy that explanation either.

Even at the women’s gold-medal basketball games at the Olympics, the press tribune is almost always half-empty, if not worse. Clark of course would have changed all that, igniting interest not just among U.S. media but reporters around the world. 

Clark, 22, has become the human gateway to women’s hoops for hundreds of thousands, likely even millions, of girls and boys, women and men. USA Basketball certainly could have tapped into her enormous reach to help promote not only its 2024 Olympic team but the women’s game in general. Selecting Clark also would have honored the popularity of the college game — and it has been done before, with collegians like Christian Laettner, Rebecca Lobo, Diana Taurasi and Breanna Stewart making U.S. Olympic teams over the years.

You can also argue that Clark was needed for not only women’s basketball but also the entire Olympics. The previous summer Olympic Games, which took place in Tokyo in  2021, were the least-watched Olympics in history.

“The Tokyo Summer Olympics averaged 15.6 million viewers per night across NBC’s various television and digital platforms, marking the least-watched primetime Olympics on record, Summer or Winter,” Sports Media Watch reported four years ago. “The previous low was set by the previous Olympics — 19.8 million for the PyeongChang Winter Games in 2018.

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In fact, the Tokyo Games were the first Summer Olympics to attract fewer viewers than the preceding Winter Games since Athens in 2004. Interest in seeing Caitlin Clark play could have given not only the women’s basketball team a boost, but the entire Olympic Games.

So, what’s the real reason Clark was snubbed? Is it the same reason why so many object to her popularity—that she’s straight, white, and from Iowa?

Is there any reason to believe to believe it’s not?

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