She can use the rest anyway?


Allegany Communications Sports

Caitlin Clark will not be selected for this summer’s United States Olympic women’s basketball team. Egads!

Of course, all things Caitlin Clark, on and off the court, has become egads, and that’s fine; that’s good. Egads comes with interest, and Clark has brought plenty of that with her to the WNBA, as witnessed by the sellout crowds and the higher television ratings.

People watch the Olympics, though, with or without Caitlin Clark – this is one constant that remains constant, even in this too-much, anything-goes world of sports and reality television that we currently find ourselves in.

The question that begs, though, is, does Caitlin Clark deserve to be on the Olympic team, or is her exclusion merely more of the perceived jealousy and animosity that seems to find her?

As good as Clark has been in her rookie season, and as good as she is likely to still become, I can only offer a guess, because I do not follow the WNBA, nor do I follow the NBA these days, because in late spring and in summer I follow baseball, the news (difficult, but necessary) and watch Turner Classic Movies.

So, based on all I read, and based on the basketball opinions of people I trust, I’d say that while Caitlin Clark is deserving, she was not unfairly snubbed, because there are at least 12 established USA players who are likely more qualified to be on the team ahead of the rookie. But let’s be honest, they are established USA players that most of us could never begin to name or recognize because there are a lot more fans who do not follow the WNBA than who do.

Yet wouldn’t the inclusion of the name and the personality, not to mention the game, that everyone seems to know help bring about more recognition for all of those we don’t seem to know?.

While Clark’s exclusion is being treated as yet another Lindbergh Baby atrocity, there are many basketball people, Caitlin Clark included, who think otherwise.

“No disappointment,” Clark said on Sunday. “I think it just gives you something to work for. That’s a dream. Hopefully one day I can be there. I think it’s just a little more motivation. You remember that.”

The Athletic’s Ben Pickman said, “It’s not entirely surprising. The U.S. women’s basketball team, winners of seven consecutive Olympic gold medals, is the strongest collection of basketball talent in the world.”

The USA has not lost an Olympics basketball game since 1992 – that’s 32 years.

At the same time, the great Christine Brennan, of USA Today, who has covered every Olympics since 1984, reported that two long-time U.S. basketball veterans with decades of experience in the women’s game told her that concern over how Clark’s millions of fans would react to what would likely be be limited playing time on a stacked roster was a factor in her not being selected for the team.

The two spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, according to Brennan.

If Clark was not selected for this reason, that would be unfortunate, and would not appear to make sense, since no matter how high television ratings are for the Olympics, networks always want them to be higher, and Caitlin Clark being on the team would make them higher. This has already been established since her Iowa team and now her Indiana Fever team have been drawing record crowds and record TV ratings.

Nor does it make a lot of sense for women’s basketball globally, since it is a sport and an excellent product that is starving for recognition and ratings (translation: $$$), as Caitlin Clark has provided both for the WNBA since her very first day.

Yet the sensitivity to the matter exists, as Caitlin Clark, unintentionally or not, has become a polarizing figure. Witness Chennedy Carter’s hard hip check on Clark last week, for while Caitlin Clark is adored by most fans, she is not popular amongst WNBA veterans, who after busting their guts to make the WNBA viable, yet still must go to Europe to play (and in Brittney Griner’s case, be imprisoned) to get paid, grew tired of hearing she was going to save and then make the league before she even arrived to the league; even at the expense of cutting their proverbial nose off to spite their face.

Frankly, there were plenty of college players who were not crazy about Caitlin Clark, because she has long pushed off, flopped (most famously during the Ohio State court storming), taunted and extended the rules as much, if not more, than any other player.

Yet right now, we have decided to channel our outrage toward Caitlin Clark not making the Olympic team.

Well, as Hyman Roth said to Michael Corlene, “This is the business we’ve chosen. I didn’t ask who gave the order because it had nothing to do with business.” But in this case, it seems that it will have a lot to do with business.

Caitlin Clark is a really big deal, but that doesn’t mean everything that happens around her is the first time it’s ever happened.

She’ll be fine. So will we. And as she said, “You remember that.”

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on X at @MikeBurkeMDT

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