Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Popularity of women’s basketball 

The media craze that Iowa and Caitlin Clark have brought to women’s basketball over the past few years has left the UW Oshkosh women’s basketball program excited for the future.

“Clark has done so much for the game of basketball and the crowd she pulls is unmatched nowadays,” UWO player Kayce Vaile said. “I wish I had someone like Caitlin Clark to watch when I was younger and be such a catalyst in the game.”

On April 6 the NCAA women’s basketball national championship game between Iowa and South Carolina drew in 18.9 million viewers according to the Nielsen ratings.

It was the second largest viewership for a non-Olympic women’s sporting event behind the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final, and the most watched basketball game in five years, including the NBA and men’s NCAA according to ESPN.

On the Division III level, the UWO women’s basketball team is also feeling the reverberations of the growing popularity of the sport.

UWO head coach Brad Fischer said that sometimes a sport needs stars like Iowa’s Caitlin Clark to prop it up.

“This was obviously a huge moment for our sport,” Fischer said. “Sometimes as a sport or as a brand you need someone that draws new eyes in and shows you what the product looks like.”

“I think what people found out was [Clark] was a lot of fun to watch but so was [University of Southern California], [University of Connecticut], South Carolina and [Louisiana State],” Fischer said. “We’ve grown as a sport because of it.”

Fischer said the rise in popularity of the sport can be seen at all levels, citing the difference between now and his first season as head coach in 2013.

“The skill level has just jumped tremendously,” Fischer said. “This was my 12th season and this was the most skilled team we’ve had. As the game has grown and as more people have made it their priority to become great basketball players it has just raised the level.”

Vaile joined the UWO women’s basketball team in 2020 and said she’s noticed a shift in energy toward the program.

“More recently we have been getting crowds at our games and it’s been a fun environment to play in,” Vaile said. “It has made me enjoy the game more and pushes me to keep working.”

Fischer said the style of play that we see from stars such as Clark or Paige Bueckers is impacting the game at all levels, especially with the 3-point shot.

“I think we’re going to be talking about the next generation in about 12 years when the girls that are seven, eight, nine and ten are getting into it because of those names,” Fischer said. “They’re going to want to spend more time doing that, where my players now didn’t necessarily have players (with that style) to look up to like that 10 years ago.”

Senior UWO player Mackenzie Tlachac said that seeing the success of the 3-point shot at the higher levels makes today’s players want to adapt.

“I think that 3-point shots are becoming more popular at all levels of basketball because all players are trying to become their best version of a player and that includes adding a decent 3-point shot,” Tlachac said. “Threes have always been an important aspect but I think what’s changing about them is the distance. We are starting to see girls hit deeper and more difficult 3-pointers.”

Fischer said he’s already noticed the prevalence of the 3-point shot increasing while he is recruiting.

“We’ve seen more shooters and deep threats when we go out and recruit,” Fischer said. “I think that is only going to increase here as the next generation comes through.”

Vaile said that she has high hopes for the next generation of women basketball players and doesn’t expect the growth of its popularity to stop.

“I think we need to be ready and not think its popularity has come out of nowhere,” Vaile said. “Just because the sport has hit x amount of views and has made all this growth doesn’t mean it’s over.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Advance-Titan Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest