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How can the WNBA maximize this moment?

Savannah Maher May 14, 2024
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Star players like Caitlin Clark don't hang around forever, so the WNBA is now tasked with getting new fans invested in teams, storylines and the league as a whole. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

How can the WNBA maximize this moment?

Savannah Maher May 14, 2024
Heard on:
Star players like Caitlin Clark don't hang around forever, so the WNBA is now tasked with getting new fans invested in teams, storylines and the league as a whole. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
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As superstar rookies Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese and Kamilla Cardoso bring a new wave of fans and media attention to the professional game, there’s no doubt women’s basketball is having a moment. But can it last?

Georgetown’s La Quita Frederick, who specializes in the business of sports, calls the WNBA a 25-year overnight success story.

“There was always awesome women’s basketball,” she said. “There was always competitive, outstanding players.”

What’s different about today’s rookies, said Frederick, is they were some of the first allowed to pursue endorsements in college and to benefit from the full branding power of the NCAA.

That’s how Caitlin Clark became a household name — but she can’t be the only one.

“It’s important that all of your players that have star power have star presence. And you do that through your marketing,” Frederick said.

Individual players don’t hang around forever, so the WNBA is tasked with getting the Caitlin Clark bandwagon invested in teams, storylines and the league as a whole.

The most sustainable product the W can offer is a team rivalry, argues Kenneth Shropshire, professor emeritus at Wharton.

“Like we have in other sports, where you’re not necessarily waiting to see Caitlin Clark play Angel Reese,” he said.

Instead, you’re marking all the Indiana Fever and Chicago Sky matchups on your calendar — long after Clark and Reese have retired.

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