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Women’s March Madness Rises in Popularity

Reyna Kim
Freedom Girls Varsity Basketball Team playing against Patriot in a home game.

March Madness is the annual event of the NCAA college basketball tournament that has both a men and women’s division. The men’s division brought in an average of 14.25 million viewers for their championship in 2023 while the women’s division averaged 9.9 million viewers, a major increase from their previous 4.85 million in 2022.

“I do think women’s [sports] have less viewers because a lot of people overlook women’s sports and only focus on men’s and how they play and they think men’s sports matter more,” said senior Emily Knowles, varsity basketball and lacrosse player. 

In 2024, the women’s March Madness tournament not only had record breaking views throughout, but its championship with South Carolina versus Iowa peaked at 24 million viewers and averaged at 18.7 million viewers. This made this game the most viewed basketball game since 2019 which includes every college and professional division basketball game, men and women’s.

“I think Caitlin Clark was the first player to get media coverage and recognition for women’s college [basketball], so because of that, the viewership for women’s college [basketball] and March Madness rose,” said freshman Stacey Weng, freshman basketball player.

Caitlin Clark is a basketball player for the University of Iowa who has broken various records and has earned numerous titles and awards for her skill. These include the title of NCAA D1 all-time leading scorer and the AP Player of the Year award which she received twice in 2023 and 2024. In the WNBA draft of 2024 Caitlin Clark was the first overall pick and signed a four year contract with the Indiana Fever for $366,056. There are more than 3,800 points, 1,000 assists, and 950 rebounds that were recorded throughout Clark’s Division I career. She also is known for taking her sport seriously and for her competitive spirit. Her off-season training includes 100 3-pointers, 100 mid-range shots, and 100 free throws, typically making around 230 out of the 300 shots.

“I think that women’s college basketball is finally getting the recognition that they need and is showcasing their abilities,” said freshman Vanika Krishnaswamy, freshman basketball player. “Players like Caitlin Clark and Paige Bueckers have been able to shine and they are able to bring more viewers to women’s basketball.” 

Paige Bueckers is a basketball player who played for UCONN for four years. In her freshman year of college in 2021 she received the USBWA National Player of the Year, the USBWA National Freshman of the Year, the AP Player of the Year, and many more. In August 2022 of her junior year she tore her ACL during a game of pickup basketball. She was unable to play again for a year after this injury but was able to come back and received various other awards in her fourth year.

During the 2024 Senior Night at UCONN Bueckers announced that she would return to play in her fifth year with UCONN. Bueckers is often recognized by the media for her good character and sportsmanship. A prominent example is when she took a moment during a speech accepting an ESPYS award to acknowledge black women in basketball who do not get proper recognition and media coverage. She also frequently posts on many social media platforms including TikTok and Instagram with 2.3 million followers on TikTok and 1.7 million on Instagram.

“Paige Bueckers is an attention grabber because of her attitude on the court and her relationships with her teammates off the court,” said Krishnaswamy. “Players that are active on social media have a more positive outcome on the court with people watching to see how they really play.”

Angel Reese is a basketball player who played for the University of Maryland in her freshman and sophomore year and transferred to LSU for the rest of her college career, LSU being ranked 6th overall in all NCAA basketball teams. She has earned many awards and accolades including the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player in 2023 and the BETS Award for Sportswoman of the Year. Along with her talent Reese also has a notable social media presence, having 6.2 million combined followers on TikTok and Instagram. She was drafted as the 7th overall pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft for The Chicago Sky with a long term contract worth more than $324,000.

“I love how women’s sports are getting more recognition,” said Knowles. “Caitlin clark, Angel Reese, Kamilla Cardoso, Paige Bueckers, and JuJu Watkins are bringing a lot of recognition to women’s basketball and it’s amazing.”

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About the Contributor
Reyna Kim
Reyna Kim, Staff Writer
My name is Reyna, and I’m a freshman at Freedom. This is my first year in Uncaged. Aside from Journalism, I am part of Freedom’s SCA, and in my free time, I enjoy drawing and writing!