Caitlin Clark and the WNBA going to the next level would be the best revenge on OutKick

After OutKick tried to turn the NCAA Championship into an anti-trans moment, Clark and the WNBA have a chance to turn them into an object of ridicule.

Caitlin Clark has been at the center of the spotlight for a while and now the WNBA has a chance to take advantage of it. | Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, the WNBA Draft will take place and all eyes will be Caitlin Clark, who is a near certainty to be selected by Indiana with the No. 1 overall pick. This will kick off what should be one of the biggest stories in American sports as Clark takes her transcendent skills to women’s basketball’s biggest stage.

After Clark helped give the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship record-setting TV ratings that eclipsed the Men’s Final, she has an opportunity to take the WNBA to its greatest heights to date.

In the process, she could achieve what might be one of her greatest contributions to the sporting landscape: making OutKick shut up.

Which would be especially gratifying after the “look at me” stunt at the Finals when OutKick’s Dan Zaksheske asked a question about transgender athletes that was such an obvious signal to transphobes, he could’ve ended it by blowing a literal dog whistle.

Although he was quickly vilified in print and on social media, Zaksheske’s question became part of the discourse of the weekend, just as OutKick intended it to be.

By asking about transgender athletes prior to a game where none were playing, OutKick was by implication casting itself as a “defender of women’s sports.” They were following the Riley Gaines playbook so closely, it’s a wonder Zaksheske didn’t complain about a missing fifth place trophy.

All of which makes it extremely revealing to hear OutKick founder Clay Travis’s opinion of women’s basketball from February 2023…

“Most of you can’t name five total WNBA players, even if you’re a diehard basketball fan you can’t do that,” Travis declared on a video clip, “That’s because the product sucks! And in a capitalistic marketplace, if your product sucks, you lose.”

A throng of fans cheers Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes as they arrive for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Final. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
As recently as just over a year ago, OutKick only regarded women’s basketball as a vehicle to stoke attention-grabbing outrage by being blatant about their misogyny.

Now, when the Caitlin Clark phenomenon proved that their misogynist opinion of women’s basketball was hopelessly outdated and wrong, they pivoted to stoking outrage through transphobia. It’s the Law of Conservation of Bigotry: OutKick takes can never be created or destroyed, they can only change form.

Here’s where Clark’s move to the WNBA comes into play. While NCAA Women’s Basketball is at an all-time high in popularity, it’s still a different institution from the pro game. Women’s college basketball is a well-established institution while the W has only been around since 1997.

Following the WNBA draft, the league will provide an opportunity for Clark’s legion of fans to see how her game stacks up against the best players in the world. By showing them how Clark matches up against stars and legends like Breanna Stewart, A’ja Wilson, or Brittney Griner, this is the chance for the league to make itself a bigger part of the national sports conversation during every game she plays.

Furthermore, since Clark fell a game short of an NCAA National Championship, the “When will she win her first title” question will immediately give the WNBA a compelling narrative to market to the national media.

If Clark helps the WNBA ascend to the kind of heights that she already achieved for the NCAA, that will give the league the upper hand. Then the next time someone from OutKick tries to inject a culture narrative into what should be a celebratory moment, the only response necessary will be referencing Travis’ comments and asking “…this you?”

As much as many of us would like to manifest it, OutKick isn’t going away. Their audience is too big and, as Zaksheske proved, they know how to play the “turn awfulness into clicks” game that drives so much of 21st century media.

So if OutKick is going to be part of the scene, I’d love to turn them into an object of scorn and ridicule at every opportunity. And there will be no better way to do that than if the WNBA is able to point to this season’s attendance and ratings while chanting “Scoreboard!”

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