Caitlin Clark headlines a record-breaking week of women’s sport

IOWA CITY, IOWA- FEBRUARY 15: Guard Caitlin Clark #22 of the Iowa Hawkeyes celebrates after breaking the NCAA women's all-time scoring record during the first half against the Michigan Wolverines at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on February 15, 2024 in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

Caitlin Clark’s record-breaking achievements put women’s basketball in the spotlight.
Matthew Holst/Getty Images

This past week was punctuated by several groundbreaking moments for women in sport, with players breaking records on the basketball court, while an MLB play-by-play announcer made history off it.

University of Iowa talisman Caitlin Clark became the all-time leading scorer in NCAA women’s basketball on Thursday, confirming her status as one of college sports’ biggest superstars.

On the same night, Lauryn Taylor set another remarkable record with 44 rebounds in a game – the most in any single women’s NCAA game – while, earlier in the week, Jenny Cavnar became the first woman to serve as an MLB team’s play-by-play announcer.

Caitlin Clark has locked in lucrative sponsorships while making history on the court.

Taken together, they represent the continuing and accelerating growth of women’s sport in the US, spotlighting its increasing popularity and marketability.

It was in trademark spectacular fashion that Clark became the all-time leading scorer in NCAA women’s basketball, drilling a deep 3-pointer to break the previous record two minutes into the game, and she went on to score a personal and college one-game high of 49 points.

She surpassed Kelsey Plum’s previous record of 3,527 career points and now sits within touching distance of the all-time scoring record in men’s and women’s NCAA basketball, 98 points behind the late Pete Maravich, who played at Louisiana State from 1967 to 1970.

Clark’s success on the court has already turned her into one of the biggest, and most marketable, college stars, helping to usher in a new era of women’s college sports.

Boasting deals with Gatorade, Nike and State Farm, among others, the 22-year-old is driving record viewing figures for the sport and record ticket prices for her team.

Former teammates and celebrities, from Tom Brady to Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, celebrated Clark’s record-breaking achievement in a video on social media, in a further indication of her popularity.

On Thursday night too, Taylor, who plays for Division II school Francis Marion University, had 44 rebounds in her team’s win against North Greenville University – the most in a single game across all NCAA divisions in women’s basketball.

Lauryn Taylor recorded 44 rebounds in a single game.

Lauryn Taylor recorded 44 rebounds in a single game.
Francis Marion via AP

“I prefer to rebound over scoring anyway, so I just do what I like to do – having fun,” she said afterwards. “I realize that rebounding is something I’m good at. I can’t worry about who is in front of me or who is around me: Just go get the ball. I just have a natural knack for the ball.”

The senior, whose feat went viral on social media, had a remarkable 30 defensive rebounds and 14 offensive rebounds to go with a career-high 34 points.

Earlier in the week, NBC Sports California announced Cavnar as the Oakland Athletics’ primary play-by-play announcer, the first time a woman has held that position for a major team.

Cavnar, a broadcasting veteran with nearly two decades of baseball experience, said in a release that it was a “dream come true to join the broadcast team for the Oakland A’s and their rich baseball history.”

Jenny Cavnar became the first female play-by-play announcer for an MLB team.

Jenny Cavnar became the first female play-by-play announcer for an MLB team.
Sam Wasson/Getty Images

She joins a small but increasing number of female commentators, describing and interpreting games for fans to follow, like Suzyn Waldman, who is a color radio broadcaster for the New York Yankees or Melanie Newman who contributes to TV coverage with the Baltimore Orioles.

Outside the US, record crowds flocked to a women’s ice hockey game in Canada and a Women’s Super League soccer game in England.

More than 60,000 fans attended the Emirates Stadium in London on Saturday to watch Arsenal coast to a 3-1 victory against Manchester United and keep its league title hopes alive, while 19,825 spectators watched Toronto defeat Montréal 3-0 on Friday.

CNN’s Jacob Lev, Jason Hanna, George Ramsay, Clare Duffy, Allison Morrow, Jill Martin and Jordan Valinksy contributed to this article.

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