No Caitlin Clark? Group USA girls’s basketball will nonetheless be large TV draw at Olympics TERMAN WEBSITE

Caitlin Clark is quick approaching LeBron James and Tim Tebow standing as an all-time content material driver. She is a power multiplier for attendance, social media curiosity, and all the opposite metrics professional leagues use to find out reputation. She is a comet for tv viewership, the driving power behind 18.9 million viewers watching South Carolina’s win over Iowa in April within the NCAA girls’s nationwide championship recreation. She attracts opinions about girls’s basketball from individuals who not often if ever mentioned the game earlier than.

We’re seeing all of this explode in real-time. Everybody needs a bit of Clarkonomics.

The most recent debate to rage round Clark is over her exclusion from the U.S. Olympic crew. As somebody who lined girls’s school basketball for greater than a decade at Sports activities Illustrated, I feel the choice is right for basketball causes. USA Basketball’s aim is to win, and there are higher American perimeter gamers proper now, together with Arike Ogunbowale, who I might have chosen over each Clark and Diana Taurasi, who made the crew. Kayla McBride would even be forward of Clark on kind if I had been on the committee. (I additionally would have picked Dearica Hamby over Brittney Griner.) Cheap individuals can disagree on such issues.

The one who has placed on a media clinic for all of those points is Clark herself.

One frequent opinion is how having Clark in Paris would enhance viewership and develop girls’s basketball. The argument is that she ought to be there for advertising. earlier girls’s basketball viewership on the Olympics, although, you is perhaps shocked how many individuals have watched earlier than Clark’s arrival on the scene.

Listed below are the common viewership numbers for the final 4 girls’s basketball gold-medal video games:

2021 (Tokyo): 7.9 million viewers (which incorporates out-of-home measurement, a change Nielsen made in 2020);
2016 (Rio): 8.1 million viewers;
2012 (London): 10.2 million viewers;
2008 (Beijing): 5.9 million viewers.

The ladies’s gold-medal recreation between Group USA and Japan in Tokyo in 2021 tipped off at 10:30 p.m. Japanese on NBC, amid COVID, and nonetheless drew practically 8 million viewers. The U.S. win over Spain in 2016 tipped at 2:30 p.m. ET on a Saturday. (The gold-medal recreation from Paris will tip off at 9:30 a.m. ET on Aug. 11. That’s not perfect, however I guess the viewership quantity remains to be robust if the U.S. crew makes it.)

The all-time Olympic girls’s basketball viewership document, NBC confirmed this week, was the prime-time window on August 4, 1996, when NBC aired the U.S. defeating Brazil 111-87 within the gold-medal recreation in Atlanta. All the viewership window for that prime-time bloc averaged 23.4 million viewers and by no means dipped beneath 19.5 million for any quarter-hour of the sport. That crew was the jet gas that led to the formation of the WNBA in 1997.

A number of issues will be true directly, which simply will get misplaced in an period of tribalism. Would Clark add viewership in Paris? Unquestionably. The information for her school and WNBA video games confirms this. There’s a good-faith argument that ladies’s basketball would develop with Clark as an Olympian.

Molly Solomon, NBC’s govt producer and president of their Olympics manufacturing, provided some welcome nuance in regards to the prospect of getting Clark on her airwaves this summer time in Paris.

“Her influence on viewership can be plain and possibly even historic,” Solomon advised The Athletic six weeks in the past, “however I do suppose it speaks a lot to the depth of the WNBA that it’s a query whether or not she’s going to make the roster. I feel it’d be superb if she may. However I actually really feel like (NBC has) been lifting up girls’s Olympic basketball for a very long time. We’ve all the time put the sport on actually high-profile platforms, and we’re going to do the identical factor right here.

“When individuals ask me about what are essentially the most fascinating storylines for these Video games, the ladies’s crew goes for its eighth straight gold medal,” Solomon continued. “That’s unprecedented in any Olympic sport. They haven’t misplaced a recreation since 1992. It’s superb, that streak. So including Caitlin to that crew would create much more intrigue, simply getting extra individuals to comprehend the greatness of this crew.”

That’s my level on viewership. The U.S. Olympic girls’s basketball crew is already in a category of its personal — 54-0 since 1996 in Olympic play — and the curiosity has been there for a number of cycles. The notion that few watched earlier than Clark is absurd and inaccurate.

However viewership and advertising isn’t actually the purpose right here. The crew ought to be about benefit, and the committee — consisting of ladies’s basketball icons Daybreak Staley, Seimone Augustus, DeLisha Milton-Jones, Jennifer Rizzotti and WNBA head of league operations Bethany Donaphin — is charged with successful. (On that word, earlier committees ought to be crushed for the omission of Candace Parker in 2016).

That the U.S. would win irrespective of who’s the twelfth participant on the roster isn’t an excellent argument for me to make the crew, nor ought to or not it’s for coach Cheryl Reeve, whose job is to win. Some see that in another way, and I can respect that. However I guarantee you that persons are going to observe this crew in Paris, as a result of historical past says so.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Group USA might have ‘woke a monster’ by not choosing Clark for Olympics

(Photograph of Group USA celebrating with their gold medals on the Tokyo Olympics in 2021: Tim Clayton / Corbis through Getty Photos)




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