April 9, 2024
Melinda Head

Women’s Basketball is On Fire

The Battle Continues

Have you heard of the Hawkeyes (Iowa) or Gamecocks (South Carolina)? They are the female equivalents of the Huskies (UConn) and Boilermakers (Purdue). The ladies put on quite a show on Sunday, with SC winning the Women’s NCAA Championship, completing a perfect season without a single loss.

15-20 million viewers tuned in to the Women’s March Madness final game – shattering all previous records. To put this in perspective, the 2024 Women’s NCAA Championship game topped every World Series game in 2023, every NBA Finals game in 2023, every Daytona 500 since 2013 and every Masters Final Round since 2013, according to Richard Deitsch with The Athletic. That’s BIG.

All eyes were on Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, the most accomplished ever NCAA Division I (the most elite level of college basketball) scorer in history (men and women) with 3,951 points. The 6 ft. guard will forego an extra year of college basketball eligibility (due to the COVID interruption) to enter the sold out WNBA Draft next week. She is expected to be Indiana Fever’s #1 pick.

“Women’s basketball … everybody sees the viewership numbers … it continues to get better and better.” (Caitlin Clark)

It’s hard to believe that Clark will only be guaranteed $76,535 in her first WNBA season, with the ability to top up to $250,000 in a League marketing deal and up to $100,000 in a team marketing contract if she chooses not to play abroad during the offseason. Corporate sponsorship will do the heavy lifting. Did you know that in basketball women can’t turn pro until age 22, whereas the age limit is just 19 with 1 year of college for men? Last year’s #1 NBA Pick, 19 year old Victor Wembanyama, was guaranteed more than $10 million, with corporate sponsorship opportunities on top of that.

Victor Wembanyama (now a Louis Vuitton ambassador), who measures 7 ft. 4 in. tall with an 8 ft. wingspan, has transformed the NBA

Gamecocks guard Kamilla Cardoso, who hails from Brazil, was named 2024’s Most Outstanding Player. She will join Clark at the WNBA Draft.

Kamilla Cardoso’s highly fitting nickname is “Killa Milla”

It’s been a long, but determined basketball ascension for Ms. Cardoso as she has navigated bullying (due to her 6 ft. 7 in. height), loneliness (an international student, she moved to the US from Brazil as a teenager) and having to learn English (her native tongue is Portuguese).

ABC and ESPN+ will be airing a four-episode docuseries, “Full Court Press”, featuring Caitlin Clark, Kamilla Cardoso and Kiki Rice (UCLA). It premieres on May 11th and 12th. Be sure to watch it.

Many have said that women’s basketball has arrived at a tipping point, akin to the moment when Serena Williams burst onto the tennis scene. The WBNA, broadcasters and corporate sponsors must invest to convert the millions of new men, women, boys and girls into dedicated fans to maximize this moment. Let’s make that happen, it’s time.

Serena, we’ve seen you at NBA games (pictured here with Usain Bolt). Now it’s time for you to support your WNBA sisters

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About the Author

A serial entrepreneur, Melinda is a sociologist and statistician who believes there is no currency with greater value than knowledge

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