The Shot Clock Has Run Out on Ignoring Women’s Basketball


Juliette Des Rosiers ’26
Copy Editor

As a long-time sports fan and former basketball player, I have always appreciated women’s basketball in all its radiant glory. However, when swapping stats with other basketball fans, I felt dismissed and at times was ridiculed when I mentioned women’s athletes. Therefore, the overwhelming success of the 2024 Women’s March Madness college basketball tournament has controlled my past month and tugged at my heartstrings more times than I can count.

For the first time in my life, the general sports-watching public has become disillusioned with the misogyny that silences women’s basketball players — shocked that so much talent has flown under the radar. Though I am disappointed by their naivety, I am grateful they can finally listen to the generations of women who have called for equitable and appropriate recognition of the athletic powerhouse that is women’s basketball.

This year, nine of the 15 finalists for the John R. Wooden Award, the most prestigious award for men’s and women’s collegiate basketball, were women. Additionally, four out of the six most recognizable names within collegiate basketball were women’s players. The attention on women’s basketball is long overdue and reflects the power that women’s athletics can contribute when taken seriously and genuinely uplifted by institutions.  

This was only the third year the Women’s March Madness has existed, though the Men’s March Madness tournament has existed under that name for over 40 years. Before 2022, the women’s NCAA tournament was excluded from any March Madness branding and, by extension, viewership.

In 2024, however, the women’s tournament was averaging more viewers than the men’s tournament on Fox Sports as early as the first round. From the get-go, the tournament drew an unprecedented amount of attention due to the mesmerizing skill exhibited in the regular season.

Among a plentitude of unprecedented viewership this season, records were continuously broken and the championship game between Iowa and South Carolina averaged 18.9 million viewers while peaking at 24 million viewers in the last 15 minutes. The game set the record for the most-watched non-football sporting event across all networks and had an average ticket price of $481.

Retired NBA legend, four-time NBA champion, and Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal told People that he exclusively watched Women’s March Madness this postseason. “I haven’t even been paying attention to the guys, only been paying attention to the girls,” he said. “It’s just a better game.”

While you should support women’s sports regardless of a man’s opinion, his sentiments speak volumes about the talent and entertainment ubiquitous within women’s college basketball. To start, the newly minted champions from the University of South Carolina exhibited some of the most poetic basketball I have ever watched, as starters like Kamilla Cardoso, Chloe Kitts, and Te-Hina PaoPao were so well-complimented by bench players such as Tessa Johnson and MiLaysia Fulwiley. Additionally, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley, newly awarded Coach of the Year, made history as the first Black coach in collegiate basketball to complete an undefeated season.

She was not the only one who blew viewers away this season; players from across the country proved how extraordinary they are. The list of star players, coaches, and teams goes on and on because that is simply how amazing women’s basketball truly is.

One of my favorite things I witnessed this season was what I refer to as The Caitlin Clark Effect. The senior point guard playing for Iowa wowed the NCAA stage this season, as she always has. But after Iowa’s loss to Lousiana State University last season, more people are talking about her (as they should). Clark broke six records in six weeks, including the most 3-pointers made in women’s NCAA tournament history, the women’s single-season scoring record, and the all-time Division I scoring record, men’s or women’s.

Her impact on basketball, however, extends past her numbers. In a press conference ahead of the national game, she expressed how she doesn’t want her legacy to be reduced to numbers.  “I hope it’s what I was able to do for the game of women’s basketball,” Clark said. “I hope it is the young boys and young girls that are inspired to play this sport or dream to do whatever they want to do in their lives.”

I can only hope that the support for women’s basketball does not end with this season. I hope that the institutions that have undervalued women’s contributions to basketball recognize their misjudgment. I hope that the media increases coverage of women’s basketball and airs high-profile games on national television. I hope the voices of athletes in the NCAA and WNBA continue to be elevated so fans celebrate young women athletes as much as their male counterparts. I hope the success of this NCAA season carries over to positive attention in the upcoming WNBA draft. I hope the newly popular respect for women’s basketball and women’s athletics in general cultivates the proper reverence that it deserves.

It’s acceptable to say you prefer one version of the game over the other. However, it is no longer socially acceptable to justify that preference due to one having an innate lack of skill. If there is one thing this collegiate season has shown us, it’s that women’s basketball can perform just as well as men’s because they are just as entertaining and talented. Discriminating against women’s sports is misogynistic, and always has been.

Photo Courtesy of Ella Lehavi ’24

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