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The Science Survey

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The Science Survey

We've got the news down to a science!

The Science Survey

How Caitlin Clark is Changing the World, Both On and Off the Court

At age 22, Caitlin Clark is defining what it means to be a female athlete — one game, one shot, and one heart at a time.
Here is Caitlin Clark during an Iowa versus Ohio Championship game. (Photo Credit: John Mac, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons)

The world has simply never seen anything like it. 

The sneakers squeak to the three pointer line. The ball leaves fingertips with grace. The stands are silent, holding their breath as if praying in unison. Then, just like that, the crowd erupts. To almost no one’s surprise, the swish of the net echoes through the stadium once again.

This isn’t Michael Jordan. It’s not Lebron James. It’s not Stephen Curry, and it’s not Kyrie Irving. This is Caitlin Clark, and when she plays, America watches.

With a success that would become unparalleled, the starting point guard for the Iowa Hawkeyes has been nothing short of exceptional, even from her earliest years. Born on January 22nd, 2002 in West Des Moines, Iowa, Clark began playing basketball at five years old. Not only did she prove herself capable on the basketball court, but Clark also played golf, soccer, softball, tennis, and volleyball in her youth.

Upon turning her focus onto one sport, she propelled through the ranks within the girls’ basketball leagues, leading her to have to play in boys leagues in her early teen years. Throughout her middle school and high school career, Clark played for an Amateur Athletic Union program by the name of ‘All Iowa Attack.’

At the 2017 FIBA Under-16 Women’s Americas Championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Clark’s skillful technique left an imprint reverberating worldwide. Furthermore, in 2021, she helped the United States win the FIBA Under-19 Women’s Basketball World Cup in Debrecen, Hungary.

The media first caught wind of her prowess through her performance in last year’s NCAA season, leading the Iowa Hawkeyes to the championship finals for the very first time in school history. And now, Caitlin Clark is a growing household name, shattering records at an unprecedented speed and teaching the world valuable lessons along the way.

On February 28th, 2024, Clark successfully passed Lynette Woodard’s record of 3,649 career points to become the all-time leading women’s scorer in college basketball.

Within just two weeks, Caitlin Clark did it again, but this time her talents extended beyond the women’s league. On March 3rd, 2024, in her final regular season collegiate game, Clark became the NCAA Division I basketball’s all-time top-scoring player. With a second-quarter free throw, Clark successfully surpassed “Pistol Pete” Maravich’s 3,667 career points, a record that stood for 54 years.

The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay said, “Clark is far from the first great shooter in women’s basketball, but she’s the one who is changing the dimensionality of the game, because of the distance she can shoot from and how well she can pass.”

Deemed the “Caitlin Clark effect,” Clark is increasingly regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time because of how rapidly she is popularizing the women’s sport. This is only further displayed in the remarkable statistics.

Clark’s team set the highest-rated college basketball game in ESPN history through her Elite Eight game against rival Angel Reese from Louisiana State University, peaking at 16.1 million viewers. Then, just days later, Clark’s team broke the record again, this time peaking at 17 million viewers.

Even more astonishing were the ratings for this year’s March Madness Final. The game, which consisted of 18.7 million viewers, was named the highest viewed basketball game in America since the men’s NCAA. championship in 2019.

The Iowa Hawkeyes sold out every home game for the first time in program history during her senior year, and at a preseason exhibition game, she set a record for women’s basketball attendance with 55,646 attendees. With an average attendance increase of 150%, every team that hosted Iowa during the regular season broke attendance records and the 2024 Big Ten tournament sold out for the first time in history.

According to Forbes, Clark “is creating what commentators like basketball analyst Deb Antonelli and tennis legend Billie Jean King have called ‘Clarkomics,’ a formula of insurgence whereby, after decades of being made to feel like second-class citizens, female college athletes are out ranking men in popularity and earnings.”

Clark’s dominant performance has earned praise from rappers — Travis Scott, Ice Cube and Lil Durk — and fellow athletes alike, including Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, LeBron James, and Stephen Curry. Even President Joe Biden has taken heed. With her widespread popularity, Clark transcends the preconceived notion of what a women’s basketball fan looks like.

When speaking on her future WNBA career in a surprise Saturday Night Live appearance, Clark continues to credit those that came before her. “I’m sure it will be a big first step for me, but it’s just one step for the WNBA thanks to all the great players like Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie, Cynthia Cooper, the great Dawn Staley, and my basketball hero, Maya Moore,” Clark said. “These are the women that kicked down the door so I could walk inside.”

Clark is working to reflect the efforts made by these women for her younger fans. Through her founding of the Caitlin Clark Foundation, she aims to uplift the lives of children through the three pillars she credits with her success: education, nutrition, and sport. She does this by holding campaigns, food pantries, and offering an abundance of donations.

Clark’s striking indifference to the judgment of others’ serves as a shining example of how to maintain perseverance while simultaneously forging one’s own path. Women in the public eye are held to unrealistic standards, leading them to have to find impossible mediums between being assertive and passive. Clark is no exception to the tightrope of expectations.

“Men have always had trash talk,” said Clark in an interview with ESPN. “You should be able to play with that emotion. That’s how every girl should continue to play.” Clark is taking back the power and the extent to which other people’s opinions affect her athletic career is something she alone can determine.

“Her crown is heavy,” said Iowa coach Lisa Bluder in an interview with USA Today. Clark has donned it with pride, understanding the enormity of her influence for generations of past and future women.

In a 2023 post-game press conference following a loss to Louisiana State University, Clark said, “I want my legacy to be the impact that I have on young kids and the people in the state of Iowa. I hope I brought them a lot of joy this season… I was just that young girl, so all you have to do is dream, and you can be in moments like this.”

Clark’s influence has even made its way into the hallways of Bronx Science, touching athletes of all sports. Cece Beauchamp ’25, captain of the Girls’ Varsity Basketball, Girls’ Varsity Flag Football, and Girls’ Varsity Tennis teams spoke on her personal experience in the sports world. “Growing up, I’ve always been told, ‘You’re good, for a girl.’ As I got older, that idea still followed me,” said Beauchamp. “[On] my past Varsity Basketball team, we even had to fight for time in the gym to practice because the Boys JV team was always prioritized. Being a girl in sports has never felt fair.”

“However, Caitlin Clark is bashing the stereotypes and is an amazing example of what girls are truly capable of,” she added. “It’s a battle between sexes, and it shouldn’t exist in any athletic circumstance, whether it is with school sports teams or even the professional WNBA.”

And it’s not just the youth that feel Caitlin Clark’s power. Dr. Asitha Jayawardena, pediatric ENT surgeon at Children’s Minnesota Hospital, ended his Star Tribune article titled ‘Dear Caitlin Clark’ with a simple, yet all-telling sentence: “Thank you for helping me be a better dad.”

Even the biggest fans of the Hawkeye’s rival teams feel it. “I want to despise her,” wrote the Des Moines Register’s Lucas Grundmeier, a longtime Iowa State fan. “But I can’t muster the feeling. Her otherworldliness is just too overwhelming.”

On April 10th, 2024, the Iowa Hawkeyes officially bestowed upon her the highest honor – the iconic No. 22 jersey was retired. Jersey retirement honors the merits of the legend who once wore the number on their back by recognizing that no other player from that team may wear that number thereafter. At its core, the world has recognized that there will never be another like Caitlin Clark.

You don’t have to love her. But one thing stands clear— Clark’s tenacity, fused with her superb technique, is infecting the hearts of millions. Those who have the privilege of witnessing Caitlin Clark’s three pointers as she rocks her signature slicked back ponytail are left with a new understanding – that even the wildest of dreams are obtainable.

You don’t have to love her. But one thing stands clear— Clark’s tenacity, fused with her superb technique, is infecting the hearts of millions.

About the Contributor
Nora Torok, Staff Reporter
Nora Torok is a Copy Chief for ‘The Science Survey.' At the young age of eight, Nora developed a passion for journalism. It was not long until she shaped her life around this prospect, following in the steps of her journalistic idols, Scott Pelley and Leslie Stahl. Nora hopes to use her position to write articles that uplift and inform her readers. Nora is also a current member of Bronx Science Student Organization’s Wolverine TV, allowing her to learn the value of using a video camera to capture a story. In her free time, she likes listening to various types of music. She attends a first amendment values class at Barnard College and from there, has learned the value of expressing ideas to apprise the greater population. Nora strives for the future opportunity to not only inform the public of specific events but to also provide reasoning as to why it matters. She wishes to build a career based on giving people the tools to better understand their world.