Caitlin Clark’s Popularity Is Noted, But Her First WNBA Training Camp “Is Hard,” So Don’t Expect Her To Transform Women’s Basketball Overnight

Caitlin Clark hasn’t played a game in the WNBA, but her first training camp is underway amidst a whirlwind of media hype, pressure and expectations. 

College basketball’s all-time leading scorer has already been anointed the savior of women’s basketball and been credited with “transforming” the entire landscape as record viewers tuned in to see the one-woman-band from Iowa lay waste to the Super Teams of women’s college hoops. 

This is where things get tricky. Corporate America and fringe sports fans are looking for a wave to ride and bit hard on the Caitlin Clark’s All-American girl brand. The media coverage has been excessive, and the hyperbole and predictions and projections are all over the place. 

WNBA No.1 overall pick Caitlin Clark says Indiana Fever practice is “harder” and “faster” than college. (Screenshot/NBC)

Despite Clark’s captivating story, it has taken a massive brand push fueled by social media, race-baiting drama, the NCAA Tournament, Nike and an eroding men’s college basketball product, to position her at the top of the marketing food chain for women athletes.

Who knows if a run like this can last for a sport that traditionally turns off male viewers (according to the numbers).

With Clark finally meeting her new team and getting all of the fanfare out of the way, she’s finding that there will definitely be an adjustment from college where she ran roughshod over teenagers to the WNBA, featuring grown women who play for high stakes every night. 

“It’s definitely different, but that’s what you expect when you start a new chapter in your life,” Clark said about her first Indiana Fever practice. “It’s a fast, fast shot clock, but I think all of you know that’s how I like to play. So, I think it suits my game pretty well. It’s a fast pace, a lot faster than college, and you’ve got to learn quicker because you’ve got to get your mind on Friday.”

That’s the next level that some people who are still not sold on Clark want to see her conquer before they join in the coronation.

Clark is known for having excellent end-to-end speed, but the WNBA moves even faster. It will be interesting to see how her speed translates and how long it takes her to adjust to the pace. 

She hit some of her patented long-range jumpers off the fast break, but you could tell Clark was gassed.

“It’s hard. I got a couple of work outs in so I’m not coming into these practices completely blind. It’s hard, but that’s what you expect from these practices,” Clark told reporters.

Clark will make her WNBA preseason debut on May 3 against the Dallas Wings. She will have another tune-up game May 10th against the Atlanta Dream.

Neither team is considered a WNBA contender. Both are at least top 7 out of the 12 WNBA teams according to current championship odds.

Then it gets real as the season starts against the Connecticut Sun and New York Liberty, both title contenders.

There Will Be an Adjustment Period For Caitlin Clark

The assumption that Clark would come into the WNBA and destroy the greatest players in the world right away, might be premature. 

To say she has already transformed the game is enthusiastic exaggeration because despite reports of higher ticket sales and sold-out merchandise, we still have to see what the ratings will be like in Game 22, compared to the first week of the season when the media will be on steroids, riding the Caitlin Clark wave. 

The WNBA still has 143 other players who will be going at her hard every night. She surely has the talent to make an immediate mark in this league, but crediting her with changing or influencing a league she hasn’t earned her keep in yet might be overdoing it a bit. 

The attention will surely put a bull’s-eye on her back but her current teammates, even those who stand to lose shots, playing time and starting jobs because of her arrival, are rallying around her already. Shes the “Big Meal Ticket.”

The heightened attention and increased branding opportunities for certain players the league has garnered entering its 28th season is undeniable, but we don’t know how this new energy for women’s basketball will translate into increased revenue for the league. 

When the Caitlin Clark media rush fades or dulls, as far as the fringe fan is concerned, will this moment have been enough to sustain the league and reach its goal of doubling overall revenue from $60 million to $120 million? 

With all due respect, when you put all of the talk and opinions aside, Caitlin Clark hasn’t transformed anything yet. Right now, she’s focused on learning how the league works, getting up to speed and realizing just how challenging it’s going to be.

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‘They Messed Up’ | Candace Parker Had Signature Shoe Before Caitlin Clark, Who Former Shoe Exec Sonny Vaccaro Believes Was Grossly Underpaid By Nike (

Get To Know The Five WNBA Stars That Will Help Caitlin Clark Move The League Forward (

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