Wenceslao: The Caitlin Clark story

Candid Thoughts
SunStar Wenceslao
SunStar Wenceslao

Women’s basketball in the country is nonexistent. I know that because I have long been a basketball aficionado myself.

There are two reasons for this. One is that private and public schools in the country do not have a program for developing the sport. Then there is the lack of public interest in it. Even in the backyards and other community spaces, women rarely play the game. When I was in high school in Southwestern University, I knew of only one person who was interested in women’s basketball and she was a lesbian. She did play the game but nobody else was with her. I saw her when I was in college. She was still a lesbian and it seemed to me like she was living a lonely life.

Things are different in the United States, of course. That is the country where basketball originated. Women’s basketball does exist there, but people interested in the game are few. Women’s basketball does exist at the collegiate level but interest in the game is lesser compared with those interested in men’s basketball. In the pros, the National Basketball Association or NBA subsidizes its women counterpart, the WNBA.

The landscape is beginning to change, though, with Caitlin Clark, a woman who shoots three pointers farther than the designated line on the basketball court. She is considered as the female version of Stephen Curry, the NBA’s greatest shooter. This is what mainly attracted fans to women’s basketball nowadays. After breaking shooting records and leading her college team, the Iowa Hawkeyes, to multiyear national finals games, Clark is now playing with the lowly Indiana Fever in the WNBA after she was picked number one in the draft.

But there’s a catch there. Clark is white, pretty and is straight, meaning that she has a boyfriend. In the WNBA, the players are mostly black and a good percentage of them are members of the LGBTQ+ community. While Clark has drawn attention to women’s basketball, she is also facing resentment from the veteran players — most of them are black, and many belong to the LGBTQ+ community.

I don’t know how popular Clark is in the Philippines. Basketball is indeed our national pastime but our focus is on the men and not on the women. We do not know the WNBA and its stars although we are very knowledgeable about the NBA. On Facebook, some people have been posting updates about the NBA playoffs and about the coming finals between the Boston Celtics and the Dallas Mavericks. I still have to hear talks about Clark’s journey from the collegiate level to the WNBA.

And while interest in the Philippine Basketball Association or PBA is waning, interest in women’s volleyball is on the upsurge. This can be added to the reason why nobody here knows who Clark is and how she has attracted controversy in the US. But this can be both good and bad, depending on one’s bias. This can be good for women’s volleyball in the country but bad for basketball aficionados here.

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