Sports Column

Indiana Fever on verge of becoming must-see


Indiana Fever on verge of becoming must-see

As a father of two girls, and as someone who recently coached girls basketball, I am thrilled that the interest continues to grow for women’s sports. Media coverage has nearly tripled for women’s sports over the last five years. More and more female athletes are getting sponsorships and the attention they deserve. And fan attendance is also on the rise.

The Indiana women’s basketball team is one example. They have averaged over 9,000 fans in attendance this season. Years ago, it wasn’t abnormal to see less than a thousand watching one of their games in Assembly Hall.

All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis gave us many special moments, including the greatest shooter of all time Stephen Curry going up against WNBA star Sabrina Ionescu. It was another win for female sports, as Sabrina went toe-to-toe with Curry from the NBA line.

“I think a night like tonight shows a lot of young girls and young boys that, if you can shoot, you can shoot,” Ionescu said after the contest. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a girl or boy, I think it just matters the heart that you have and wanting to be the best you can be.”

And now, the state of Indiana is about to experience one of the greatest thrills in the history of women’s sports. Caitlin Clark has been all over the news for the last several years, and rightfully so. She has been compared as the “Steph Curry” of women’s basketball, and recently broke the all-time record for points in NCAA women’s history. On Thursday, she set the internet on fire by announcing she will be entering the WNBA draft after this final season at Iowa. The Indiana Fever have the number-one pick in the draft, and will undoubtedly call Clark’s name on draft night.

The Fever are already on the rise with last year’s top pick Aliyah Boston leading the way. They’ve also got sharp-shooter Kelsey Mitchell, former IU legend Grace Berger, and other talented players rounding out their roster. The addition of Clark could immediately put the Fever in a position to compete for another championship in the near future.

And maybe even more importantly, the addition of Clark will bring more interest to women’s sports in the state of Indiana.

Multiple fans had already purchased season tickets for next year, hoping that Clark would be heading to the draft. Now that she made it official, I was told the phone lines have been ringing off the hook for tickets/questions ever since.

If you’ve seen Clark play in person, you know it’s a different experience than even what you see on TV. She’s going to bring the big crowds and the excitement to Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Girls of all ages will ask to attend some games as they get a chance to see a special talent up close. People of all ages will come together and take interest in the WNBA and Indiana Fever. It’s going to be a beautiful thing.

With combinations of Haliburton/Siakam, Clark/Boston, and Richardson/Taylor, the city of Indianapolis appears to be in great hands for the present and the future. It’s an exciting time for women’s sports and for the state of Indiana. And all the people said: It’s about time.

Tyler Smith covers the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Hoosiers for IndySportsLegends and is a frequent contributor to the Journal Review. He is also the youth and sports pastor at New Hope Christian Church.