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  • Writer's pictureWyatt Bose

Clark out, Griner in: Dear USA Women’s Basketball, What are you doing?

Updated: Jun 11

On Friday, June 7 the Washington Mystics moved their game to the Wizards’ Capital One Arena because the Indiana Fever were in town. Well, because Caitlin Clark was in town.

Despite the 16,000-seat discrepancy between Capital One Arena and the Mystics’ usual home arena, Friday night’s game was still a sell-out. It was the highest attended WNBA game since 2007, and it featured the 2-9 Fever and 0-10 Mystics. That’s the Caitlin Clark effect.

Clark dropped 30 points and seven three-pointers, a WNBA rookie record.

That brings us to Saturday, June 8. USA Women’s Basketball announced their roster for the 2024 Summer Olympic games in Paris, France, and Clark did not make the roster.

Caitlin Clark – perhaps the only reason anyone watches the WNBA – was left off the USA Olympic team.

Among those who did make the roster was Brittney Griner, the poster child for why not to watch the WNBA. In February 2022, Griner was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport after security found vape cartridges in her luggage. Griner was later sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony on drug smuggling charges.

The story sent shockwaves throughout the United States and discussions about trade negotiations arose. On December 8, 2022, the United States exchanged the “Merchant of Death,” Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, for Griner. She returned home after nearly a year in Russian custody and gained a newfound appreciation for her country. 

Griner had previously kneeled for the national anthem in protest of police brutality, but after returning home, the WNBA player had a change of heart:

“[After] what I went through, it just means a little bit more to me now… Just being able to hear my national anthem, see my flag, I definitely wanted to stand.”

While Griner’s newfound respect for the flag might win over some right-wing support, her spot on the team, coupled with Clark’s absence, will certainly raise some eyebrows. 

WNBA loyalists will say that this team was constructed to win the gold and that Clark hasn’t earned her stripes yet. Good luck with that narrative, just don’t complain about viewership.

WNBA players are oddly proud of criticizing the American public for not watching their games. Now, for the first time in league history, the American public has its eyes on the WNBA because of one player… and they left her off the USA Olympic team.

Clark joined the WNBA just a few months ago and for the first time ever, the WNBA has full-time charter flight services for every team. With new eyes on the league, the WNBA also announced two new expansion teams, including the Golden State Valkyries in 2025 and a Toronto franchise in 2026.

Thank you, Caitlin Clark.

Fans travel the country to watch Clark in person, while most will not walk to their living room to watch Griner on TV. WNBA players complain about equal pay, and they’re on the verge of getting it, but it seems they would rather prove a point than progress the league. It’s “old guard” this and “we laid the foundation” for that, but there’s no appreciation for the one person that has changed the game. They could win the gold this year, and nobody will care. 

People pay to see greatness, and Clark provides that. She’s box office, and fans want to watch her play. She’s the ticket to generational wealth, but the league would rather diminish her than build her up. Put her on the Olympic team, because if she’s not, nobody will watch. 

It’s that simple.

You have a star, let her shine.

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