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The Unstoppable Rise Of Women’s Basketball Despite All Odds

Forbes April 9, 2024


The Unstoppable Rise Of Women’s Basketball Despite All Odds

This year's March Madness has not only been a showcase of extraordinary talent and thrilling competition, but has also illuminated something once thought impossible: the landscape of women's sports, especially basketball, is dominating audiences as never before - even eclipsing the viewership of top televised sports finals for the first time.

Iowa's games from the Elite Eight on have attracted more viewers than every World Series and NBA Finals game in the last year, a testament to the electrifying performances and strategic masterclasses displayed throughout the Women's NCAA Basketball Tournament. These games have captured the hearts of audiences nationwide, signaling a momentous shift towards the recognition and celebration of women's sports.

The newfound appreciation for women's basketball highlights a significant advancement in the journey towards gender equality in sports. It's a testament to the relentless dedication, exceptional skill, and indomitable spirit of the athletes, coaches, fans, former players, and supporters who have long championed the cause. This year, more than ever before, women's basketball has proven itself to be not only a thrilling spectacle but also a lucrative and engaging market entity. This achievement is even more astonishing when one recalls that it was just two years ago when the NCAA even allowed women's collegiate basketball to use the iconic “March Madness” branding for the first time.

However, amidst this wave of recognition, we're reminded of the unique challenges that women athletes face. Historically critiqued for being "too passionate" or "too assertive" — traits lauded in their male counterparts — women in sports continue to redefine strength and ambition on their own terms. Players like Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark, alongside coaches like Kim Mulkey and Dawn Staley, stand as beacons of resilience and authenticity, facing undue scrutiny with unwavering conviction and grace.

Their responses to criticism embody the spirit of progress and empowerment that defines this moment in women's basketball. Angel Reese's unapologetic pride in her identity and Caitlin Clark's advocacy for playing with unabashed emotion are more than just personal stances; they're declarations of a collective movement towards embracing authenticity and breaking free from outdated stereotypes.

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