Northwest Herald

Oliver: WNBA rookie Caitlin Clark deserves better than tired ‘jealousy’ storyline

The WBNA seems to be having a moment.

For those of us who have been fans for years, the attention to all these great athletes is long overdue. Then again, things have been building for a while now.

Some people would like to say that all this attention is the result of Caitlin Clark, who was selected by the Indiana Fever as the No. 1 pick in the last draft.

Mind you, the point guard out of Iowa is spectacular, having set the NCAA Division 1 scoring record. She has an amazing range on her shots, and she is a very skilled passer. In other words, the girl can play.

However, so can a number of other women who were in her draft class. The Chicago Sky, the team I root for, managed to get not one, but two impressive draft picks: center Kamilla Cardoso, who played for South Carolina, and power forward Angel Reese, who played for Louisiana State and Maryland.

Others are Stanford star Cameron Brink, currently playing for the Los Angeles Sparks and who was selected at No. 2; Tennessee’s Rickea Jackson, who also was drafted by Los Angeles; and UConn’s Aaliyah Edwards, who was drafted by the Washington Mystics.

All these women are making an impact for their teams right out of college, and it’s impressive.

Still, because of Clark’s pedigree and accomplishments at Iowa, some people are trying to make noise about how she is being “picked on” by the rest of the league.

Apparently, these same people haven’t been paying attention to any sports ever. Or maybe they just watch sports where no defense is ever played.

Skilled players draw the attention of opposing teams. If you’re good, you’re going to face intense efforts to stop you from scoring, whether it’s baskets, goals or touchdowns.

Does anyone think that the veterans in the National Hockey League gave uber rookie and No. 1 draft pick Connor Bedard of the Chicago Blackhawks a free pass when he entered the league? No, he was the recipient of a lot of attention (aka hits) to stop him from scoring.

No doubt Caleb Williams, who was the No. 1 pick of the Chicago Bears in the past NFL draft, will also be welcomed into the league by every pass rusher who will try to land him on his butt.

The WNBA is a competitive league. Clark is now going against women who have been around for a long time. She’s going to get fouled. Thankfully she knows that, even if her fans don’t.

And she’s not alone. The Sky’s Reese took a particularly hard foul in one of her first games from league veteran Alyssa Thomas of the Connecticut Sun. For that, Thomas was ejected from the game.

Some will point to an unnecessary foul that the Sky’s Chennedy Carter administered to Clark the first time the Sky and the Fever played. It was after a play and Carter wound up being fined for it, which was entirely correct. Still, Carter is a fiery player, and it probably didn’t matter that it was Clark at all.

Basketball is a competitive sport and the women who play in the WNBA are the best in the world. They also play defense. So, there will be hard fouls, and there will be plays that look sketchy to the casual fan. That’s why there are referees. That’s why there are two levels of flagrant fouls.

Still, there are some who want to put the “jealousy” narrative onto the league’s interactions with Clark. Worse yet, they want to put some kind of race commentary onto it.

People, this isn’t junior high. These are professional athletes, and if you watch closely, you’ll see far more camaraderie and support among the players than not.

All the players benefit when the stadiums are filled. Why, the WNBA has been around for 25 years and teams are just now getting chartered flights for their players. What?!

If Caitlin Clark brought more bodies into the stands and this leads to positive changes, let’s all celebrate her.

However, let’s not make her the poster child for silly, misogynist storylines that don’t do anything but put added pressure on the talented rookie and turn the rest of the players into villains.

And for all the new fans, welcome to the WNBA. I hope you stick around.

Joan Oliver is the former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at

Joan Oliver

Joan Oliver

A 30-year newspaper veteran who has been a copy editor, front-page editor, presentation editor, assistant news editor and publication editor, as well as a columnist and host of an online newspaper newscast.