The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Opinion | How Caitlin Clark’s success reveals the depth of sexism in sports

Sexism in sports has been rampant for far too long. Caitlin Clark has helped with trying to change that, but it doesn’t mean sexism no longer exists.
Grace Smith
Iowa guard Caitlin Clark goes up for a layup during an exhibition women’s basketball game between Iowa and Clarke University at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023. The matchup marks Iowa’s first game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the 23-24 season. Clark shot 9-of-13 in the paint. The Hawkeyes defeated the Pride, 122-49.

Caitlin Clark is changing the narrative of women’s athletics, but there is still a lot of work to do in tackling rampant sexism in sports.

After finishing as the national championship runner-ups last year, Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Women’s basketball team’s 2023-24 season tickets sold out for the first time in history thanks to their unprecedented run and Clark’s undisputed role as the face of the team. 

*Forbes Magazine* said, for the first time, tickets for the women’s Final Four were three times as expensive as the men’s tickets. On top of that, the 2023 NCAA championship game averaged 9.9 million viewers and was the most watched women’s basketball game final in history according to the *New York Times*. 

It is great to have a female athlete reset the sports world and become the biggest topic of conversation, but Clark’s generational talent shouldn’t make it acceptable for people to ignore that sexism is still prevalent around the world. 

Unlike the Iowa Women’s Basketball team, other women’s athletics struggle to see high attendance rates, but this is not the biggest issue within sexism in sports. The biggest issue is the degradation of women’s sports just because women are playing them.

You can find this in the comments on social media posts. The NCAA just recently sent South Carolina and Notre Dame to Paris to play, and ESPN posted about it on Instagram. In the comments, people have posted jokes or criticism such as, What is a woman?” or “Nobody will watch and not because of the time because nobody cares.” 

This behavior reveals that there is still a lot of systemic sexism and many people use sports as a vehicle to air out their prejudices. 

Many collegiate women’s basketball teams still don’t receive any recognition unless Clark is playing against them. Some teams are even ignored by their own schools and athletic departments on social media in favor of their men’s teams.

According to ESPN, “Of the 17 Power 5 athletic departments whose women’s hoops team made the 2023 tournament but whose men’s team did not, nine, or 52 percent, tweeted about their men’s team more often during the regular season.” 

This is an embarrassing and hurtful statistic for female athletes.

There is no doubt that sexism still plagues the everyday lives of women in the U.S. If they make a mistake, if they miss a shot, and if they aren’t doing things to a certain standard, they get dehumanized immediately. 

Platforms, such as ESPN, news networks, athletic departments, and more need to do a better job of flushing out hate for women and sexist comments on their pages and in their stories. The sport is growing thanks to Clark, but platforms need to let it grow into something beyond what past and future generations would have imagined. 

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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About the Contributor
Grace Smith
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.