Women’s sports, specifically basketball, are having a moment the likes of which I cannot remember seeing in my lifetime. It’s genuinely exciting. There is a sports bar here in Portland called “The Sports Bra” that exclusively streams and shows women’s sports on the TVs and the place is always jammed with people. I went there not long ago and literally watched my state senator walk out. (For those locals who are curious, it was Ron Wyden, who is much taller than I expected him to be).

We essentially have one person to thank for this surge in interest. Caitlin Clark. If you are reading this site you’ve very likely heard of her. She might be the first WNBA player that your boomer dad knows the name of. She gained national attention last year during the women’s March Madness tournament when she did the John Cena “you can’t see me” hand wave thing and it got people talking, and only got bigger when fellow baller Angel Reese used the same taunt back at her, causing…DISCOURSE.

The hype reached stunning levels this past spring when Clark took Iowa to the finals. The hype was so strong that it overshadowed the men’s tournament for the first time I’ve ever seen. She’s a true star, she had one of the greatest college basketball careers that anyone has ever had, and the sports world had taken honest, genuine notice. She was not a niche subject for those interested. She was, and is, national news. It’s been amazing to see.

Women’s sports have long languished in the shadow of male counterparts. Pretty much the only one that ever seemed to break through to mainstream discussion was tennis. US Women’s Soccer got some attention by winning the World Cup, but this feels beyond even that. One of the biggest things you’ll see regarding women’s sports is “nobody watches it”. The counterargument has always been “people would watch it if the media would promote it”. Women’s sports have been stuffed in a corner for nobody to see, and broadcasted nowhere people watch, and then when that inevitably gets no attention the naysayers can point to the low fan turnout and numbers as evidence it doesn’t deserve attention and isn’t as good. But to those who made the effort to seek it out, womens sports delivers in the same way mens sports does, it just doesn’t have the media machine to give it the attention it deserves. But for right now at least, thanks to Clark, it kind of does.

This, of course, is overall a good thing. But it does have drawbacks. After all, sports media is very stupid. Now we get to see that stupidity directed at the WNBA and the new superstar, which is at least novel, but still stupid.

Clark got fouled by Sky player Chennedy Carter last week particularly hard. It has become…a thing. People are mad about it. People are discoursing about it. Hell, I am doing it right now. Pat McAfee, noted frat bro who owns nothing with sleeves and no ability to think before he talks, called Clark “A white bitch” (complimentary in context) on his show. It didn’t matter that McAfee was defending Clark and complimenting her, people got real mad, because he’s a dumbass with a national platform who used a derogatory curse word for women in the process. Monica McNutt of ESPN sent Stephen A. Smith to the shadow realm by calling him out on his reluctance to give women’s sports more attention before Clark showed up. Colin Cowherd was his usual self, making valid points mixed in with condescension that makes you want to smack him.

This is all pretty normal sports media bullshit. But it feels refreshing to see this happening for a part of the sport that has always lived in an ADU above the garage of the “real sport”s house.

Clark has broken through. It’s great. It’s great no matter the problems it brings. There is a Russian nesting doll’s worth of discourse to be had around all of this. The history of neglect of women’s sports. The facts of the actual game and how physical it is. The fact that Clark is white, and how there’s something icky that it took a white superstar in a predominantly black sport to finally capture our national attention. The absolute burden of expectations that must be sitting on Clark’s shoulders, no matter how well she deals with it. Untold amounts of words and takes will be generated.

But I choose to focus on the positives. I’m glad Clark has been able to bring eyes and dollars to women’s basketball. I’m glad she wasn’t just a flash in the pan. I’m glad that her star hasn’t diminished and been shuffled into the broom closet after being drafted, and that people are still paying rapt attention as she suffers the doomed fate of every first round pick: being stuck on a shit ass team that was pretty much doomed to start slow. It might take years for Clark to become the star we all hyped her to be on the Fever, and that’ll depend on how well the Fever build around her. I just hope that if she does reach that level, we still care, and she’s still being shown on TV.

If you do have the opportunity to watch women’s sports, it’s just as good from a game and athletic perspective. Clark is a perfectly good jumping in point if you need the emotional connection of something to root for. The Sports Bra, the women’s sports bar in Portland I mentioned at the beginning of this post, has received a lot of investment lately (from Reddit Co-Founder and Serena Williams Husband Alexis Ohanian) to franchise and go national, so you might get one near you in the next year or two. The food is always pretty good there when I go, and the crowd has always been friendly.