Caitlin Clark Brings Betting Interest to WNBA

by AAA Sports

Monday, Jun 10, 2024
Having taken one spring training look at the players on his expansion New York Mets in 1961, manager Casey Stengel could only shake his head and ask no one in particular: “Can’t anyone play this game?”

Something similar can be said these days about the noise surrounding the Caitlin Clark conundrum. Can’t anyone get it right and figure out how to deal with Clark’s massive presence in a league that few cared about only a few months ago? No one seems to have anything close to a clue about how to respond to the beating she’s taken, both on the court and off.

The early leader for the most clueless, unaware participant in the “Hang Clark Out to Dry” sweepstakes is oblivious Indiana Fever coach Christie Sides. Speaking after her team acted like Easter Island statues when Clark got shouldered to the court by Chicago’s Chennedy Carter, Stiles said weakly, “I think it was a situation where no one saw it happen.” No one? Not a single player on the bench or on the court saw Clark hit the deck? Sides had no comment about Fever player Aliyah Boston, who was only a few feet away and almost reluctantly sauntered over to assist Clark, saying nothing to Carter. Perhaps scared of offending her own players, Sides later said that Carter’s shoulder check was just a “non-basketball play.” You don’t say.

If Clark hitting the deck and also getting cheap-shoted game after game bothered her Fever teammates, it hasn’t been all that evident. Clark may be Indiana’s best player and the butter on their bread, but don’t you get the feeling that Fever players are more aligned with their opponents than with their own meal ticket?

As to the commissioner of the WNBA, one Cathy Engelbert, well you know it’s not your day when you get a letter from a congressman (Indiana’s Jim Banks) demanding to know just what the heck is going on and why is the league allowing Clark to be treated like a piñata? Engelbert originally issued a mild rebuke to Carter and the WNBA players who seemed to exult in Clark’s hitting the court with frequency, and the commish did issue a stronger comment a little later and forced the league to upgrade the penalty to a flagrant 1 foul.

Just when things were calming down a bit and the Fever’s ridiculous 11-games-in-20-days schedule started to even out, the people in charge of the US Women’s Olympic Basketball team tossed gasoline on the fire’s embers by leaving Clark off the team this past weekend.

How many years have the folks in charge of women’s basketball complained about lack of press coverage, lack of recognition, lack of just about everything? Oh, ALL of the years. Now with a chance to grow the game faster than the weeds in our backyards, they tell Clark she’s not good enough.

Let’s circle back now to Sides, who may be the worst coach in basketball – pro, college, or high school. When asked about not being selected, Clark said all the right things, including that she will be rooting for the US to win its 8th straight Gold Medal this summer in France. Enter Sides, who quoted a private text she had received from Clark indicating just the opposite. Ouch.]

If you want to make the argument that Clark is not one of the best 12 women’s basketball players in America, then ok. It’s legitimate, especially if your goal is to win another Gold and you are content that growing the game etc. etc. will take care of itself later on.

But if hoop fans could vote, Clark would no doubt have a spot on the team and would likely be the top vote-getter. And that just might be the problem. Rumors emerged that the Olympic bosses don’t want to deal with the heat that would be generated, as would be almost certain when Clark would get only limited playing time in France.

Through it all, Clark’s Fever team won only 3 of its first 12 games amid sellout crowds and hoopla, covering the spread five times. They are a decent Over team, though, with a league-best record of 8-4.

Where does this go? No one is certain, although the league is praying that the racial overtones diminish and fade away, and Clark’s overall popularity raises all boats and increases the number of zeroes in the paychecks of those who are so far only showing their appreciation with elbows and forearms.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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