Iowa Hawkeyes Caitlin Clark featured in our Caitlin Clark effect

The Caitlin Clark Effect: A Record-Breaking Season That Changes Everything For Women’s College Hoops

If you didn’t tune in to the women’s March Madness this season, then you’re one of the few. This year’s tournament saw historic numbers for the NCAA with one particular lady helping put major cracks in the glass ceiling.

Talent travels fast and Caitlin Clark’s record-breaking season had many eager to watch and see it for themselves. Now, the Iowa Hawkeyes guard has set the tone for the future of women’s hoops. The Caitlin Clark effect is going viral and the timing couldn’t be any better.

Women’s March Madness Viewership Skyrockets To Set Records

Right off the bat, the women’s tournament saw a 30 percent increase in viewership in the second round this season, with Clark’s No. 2 Hawkeyes drawing in the highest audience of 1.5 million during their 74-66 win over the No. 10 Georgia Bulldogs. Then, it just kept growing.

The championship game became the most-watched NCAA women’s tournament game ever, averaging 9.9 million viewers and peaking at around 12.6 million. It now is set in history as the most-viewed college sporting event ever on the ESPN+ streaming service. Though Clark and Iowa fell to the No. 3 LSU Tigers 102-85 in the final, the six-foot junior stepped off the court with a bucket full of accolades and the priceless title of being a generational player.

Caitlin Clark And All Her Glory

Where do I start? The list is long, and each accomplishment is just as impressive as the next. Clark’s tournament performance was one for the books. The Iowa native now holds records that stand in both women’s and men’s college basketball, including the most points in a single NCAA tournament (193) and earning the first 40-point triple-double ever.

After wrapping up the season leading the nation by averaging 8.6 assists per game, it’s not a shocker the 21-year-old now holds the mark for the most assists (60) in a women’s March Madness tournament. Then, putting up a hell of a fight in the title game, Clark drained eight three-pointers to set a record for the most by a women’s player in the Big Dance.

Her 41-point performance in the Final Four knocked out the No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks, who had won 42 straight games going into that contest and entered March as heavy -275 favorites to win it all. Leading Iowa to its first-ever championship appearance as 3-point favorites, Clark finished averaging 31.8 PPG and 10 APG while dancing, and capped off her season by winning the Wooden Award as national player of the year.

What Is The Caitlin Clark Effect Doing For Women’s Sports?

Accomplishing something that is long overdue. For decades, women have been advocating for equal broadcasting opportunities to help grow the game. It wasn’t until last season that the women even got the right to use “March Madness”. But the Caitlin Clark effect is putting WNCAAB on the map. The University of Iowa has already had to put ticket sales for next season on pause because of high demand.

With Clark’s skills turning heads, the excitement surrounding the league couldn’t have come at a better time with ESPN’s current broadcasting contract for the women’s tourney ending next year. The current contract groups the tournament with 28 other NCAA championships, excluding college football and men’s basketball, paying out about $34 million. However, talks have been circulating about investing in the Division 1 women’s tournament separately, estimating it to be worth over $80 million.

A ripple effect is in the works. Female sports fanatics are now sitting back and saying, “I told you so.” With the game getting the attention and promotion it rightfully deserves, that glass ceiling is eventually going to be shattered and the sky will be the limit.

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