Caitlin Clark Is Exactly Where She’s Supposed To Be Right Now

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With the Paris 2024 Olympics on the horizon, teams are solidifying, putting Caitlin Clark at the center of yet another debate in the world of sport. Fans of the Indiana Fever player were undoubtedly waiting for Clark’s name to be announced for Team USA women’s basketball. But the college phenom recently confirmed that she did not make the Team USA’s women’s basketball roster.

“I’m excited for the girls on the team. I know it’s the most competitive team in the world,” she told reporters. “And I know it could have gone either way — me being on the team, me not being on the team,” the former Iowa Hawkeye said. “So, I’m excited for them, I’m going to be rooting them on to win gold.”

While Clark seems to have handled the news well, it seems that the public has not. Headlines this week have run the gamut, referring to the USA basketball decision as a “snub” and an “airball” of an opportunity. Barstool founder Dave Portnoy went so far as to call the committee “brain dead” for not having chosen their “cash cow” and “most popular player in the world” to be on the Olympics team.

Not only are Portnoy’s comments incorrect and disrespectful, but they completely ignore some hard facts.

For starters, “when it comes to forming the women’s Olympic team, it’s a three-year process,” as pointed out by Rebecca Lobo, respected basketball analyst and former WNBA player, on ESPN’s Get Up. Lobo went on to list several training camps — which are used for player development and selection — starting back in February 2022 up through this April 2024, in addition to overseas exhibitions. Clark could have attended the April ’23 and ’24 camps, but her team was playing in the Final Four.

“All of the women who were in the pool and who ended up reportedly being on this roster, participated in many of those,” Lobo said. This roster includes heavy hitters like A’ja Wilson, Diana Taurasi, Sabrina Ionescu, Breanna Stewart, and Brittney Griner — all players who have had the opportunity to play with each other over the last few years, learning each other’s styles and that of team coach, Coach Reeve, Lobo adds.

Not to mention the committee that determined the national team roster is also full of discerning and competitive leaders, including South Carolina’s Dawn Staley, who just came off an undefeated season with the Gamecocks and is a former Team USA coach. What’s top of mind for them isn’t just viewership, but winning. And despite what Dave Portnoy might think, while Clark may have helped direct viewership and attention toward the world of women’s basketball, people aren’t only watching the league for her. Clark, along with other collegiate household name rookies like Angel Reese and Cameron Brink may have gotten new fans to watch and download league pass — but I’d argue that they’ve stayed, not solely because of rooks, but because in watching the talent and finesse that these vets posses, they’ve found themselves cheering for them just as hard.

“This is a stacked team. This is a team that has a great chance to win a gold medal,” Lobo said during her interview. Even if logistics had worked out, Clark is still getting her feet wet in the WNBA. She is a great basketball player. Some might say that she’s on track to reach GOAT status in the league. But she’s not there yet. The Indiana Fever are 3-9 and Clark’s entrance into the league has been a learning curve. It just now seems that she’s hitting her stride, banking 30 points in a June 7 game against the Washington Mystics, just days after a career-low performance against the New York Liberty on June 2 with one basket and only three points.

She’s still figuring out her place in the W, let alone her place on a world stage like the Olympics. Let’s give her time to grow and be great. But right, now Caitlin Clark is exactly where she needs to be.

Alexis Jones is the senior health and fitness editor at PS. Her passions and areas of expertise include women’s health and fitness, mental health, racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare, and chronic conditions. Prior to joining PS, she was the senior editor at Health magazine. Her other bylines can be found at Women’s Health, Prevention, Marie Claire, and more.

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