The student news site of C. Milton Wright High School

The Pony Express

The student news site of C. Milton Wright High School

The Pony Express

The student news site of C. Milton Wright High School

The Pony Express

The Rise of Women’s College Basketball And Beyond


This year’s season of women’s college basketball has opened the possibilities of women’s sports, by shattering viewership records and inspiring a new generation of young women in sports. 

The women’s Iowa vs. LSU Elite Eight match up set the all-time viewership record for the most-watched women’s college basketball game, with 12.3 million viewers. Just days later, the Final Four game between Iowa and UConn set a new record, with 14.2 million viewers, the most watched ESPN basketball game ever. 

During the women’s NCAA championship, for the first time in history, the women’s game received more viewers than the men’s. 18.9 million viewers tuned in to watch the women’s Iowa vs. South Carolina game, a nine million increase from last year’s championship. Meanwhile, the men’s UConn vs. Purdue game drew 14.8 million viewers.  

Many have credited this massive increase in viewership to a few star players in the game, including Paige Bueckers, Cameron Brink, Angel Reese, Kamilla Cardoso, JuJu Watkins, and the renowned Caitlin Clark. The result of these players’ skilled gameplay on the court has been a large amount of attention on social media. According to Sportico, women have surpassed the men in terms of their social media presence. Out of the nation’s most honorable basketball players, “seven of the 10 players with the most Instagram followers are female, including the entire top five.” This alone is an indicator of the sport’s growing popularity on the women’s side. 

In an interview with Boardroom, Cameron Brink commented on the current state of women’s college basketball. “I keep seeing videos of people saying, ‘I can name five women’s basketball players in college, but not men.’ I just think that’s so funny and such a crazy shift.” 

But the question arises as to whether women’s basketball can sustain its rise in popularity in years to come, or if this will remain short-lived. What can be done to capitalize the recent rise in viewership?  

During this year’s draft, Caitlin Clark was selected by the Indiana Fever as the No.1 overall pick, Cameron Brink by the Los Angeles Sparks as the second pick, and Kamilla Cardoso (third pick) and Angel Reese (seventh pick) were both selected by the Chicago Sky. Each of these players have assisted in transforming the world of women’s college basketball, and there is no doubt that they will transcend the sport even further, bringing more attention to the WNBA. With these players already having large fanbases on their own, they will bring many more viewers to the WNBA. Prior to the draft, the Indiana Fever had an Instagram following of 132,000. Just days after Clark was drafted, their following increased to 248,000.  

Paige Bueckers and JuJu Watkins will continue their college basketball careers, which will also keep attention on the college end. Bueckers has decided to remain at UConn for another year before entering the draft, as she was out for the 2022-23 season due to an ACL injury. An ACL tear is devastating for any athlete, but Bueckers proved her resilience as she led the Huskies to a Final Four appearance and averaged 21.8 PPG. Many have already begun to speculate that Bueckers will be the No. 1 pick of the 2025 WNBA draft. Watkins, being just 18 years old and the youngest of the bunch, will go into her sophomore year at USC. Although her skill level is capable of handling the professional level, she is not eligible to enter the draft early due to her age. But she has a promising future at the collegiate level ahead of her and is sure to keep fans watching.  

Not only have these players revolutionized the game of women’s basketball, but they have influenced and inspired many young female athletes. Watching these leaders put hours of hard work and dedication into their sport to compete at the highest level has enabled young girls to strive for greatness and be the best player they can be. It is essential for athletes to have role models to look up to, as it can instill motivation and encourage them to achieve their goals. 

It is exhilarating to see this new era of women’s sports come alive, as sports has been an area largely dominated by men. But with the continued support of fans and the leadership of each player, women’s sports will certainly receive the recognition that it has always deserved. 


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