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WNBA

The Olympic Roster Is Not Just A Marketing Tool

Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever talks to the media before the game against the Washington Mystics at Capital One Arena on June 07, 2024 in Washington, DC.
G Fiume/Getty Images

Bomani Jones, who knows things at an almost obnoxious tonnage, solved the Caitlin Clark Olympics conundrum for everyone yesterday when, on his podcast, he suggested that Clark should be hired as an analyst for broadcasts of the U.S. Olympic team she is not currently a member of—you know, a chance to sell the WNBA, win over some of her colleagues, and be part of the process that she has not yet fully been absorbed into.

He also suggested that she shouldn't be an Olympian because the team is too loaded with talent already, and that she isn't a made woman yet, in the mob sense. This is also the argument that enrages those who described her omission from the team as a "snub," but until someone can explain which current player she should replace, we will view this as what it is: a basketball decision.

Indeed, when selection committee chairman Jen Rizzotti explained Clark's omission by saying, "It wasn't the purview of our committee to decide how many people would watch or how many people would root for the U.S. It was our purview to create the best team we could for [head coach] Cheryl [Reeve]," she nailed the dismount. Marketing is already too heavily weighed in too many areas of living to be considered a noble profession any longer, let alone one which allows its practitioners an all-access pass into all the decision-making rooms. For one, the fumigation costs would be staggering.

So while Clark being on the team might have jazzed up the ratings a bit, it wouldn't be such a benefit that it should supersede a basketball decision. On the other hand, having her handy for analysis and pithy remarks about her fellow players gets the kind of superficial bang that the people concerned for her still-nascent legacy can take solace in, because they get what they want (all Clark all the time) while helping to further benefit the league she just joined and the sport she presumably loves. So all honor and glory to Jones, who figured this the solution that shuts everyone else up.

We hope.

And yet we doubt that's how it will end. Clark's insertion into our Bizarro World zeitgeist has been in many ways a godsend for the army of gasbags, blowhards and shouty-faces who somehow make bank from knowing less than they say, to the point where the very mention of her name causes dogs to hiss and cats to bark. Given the horrifying scenario in which both the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Final end in sweeps, which has happened only twice, there will be a need for discussion points to fill the shovels of the punditocracy, and Clark is a better salesperson for that industry than the NBA Draft, the MLB All-Star Game, a bunch of soccer friendlies, and whatever Lionel Messi is doing at any given point. In other words, it's either Clark or whether Aaron Rodgers is going to be in training camp on time, and that's a choice with no options.

Until then, though, the Jones Plan is the one that makes the most sense, and it's not like Clark can't cash in on that, too, while getting a useful break from the more strenuous forms of financially beneficial exploitation. True, for her detractors it means you'll still have to hear her name, but at least it's in service to a greater good for even those fellow players who side-eye all the attention she receives. If I'm Jones, I'm thinking a consulting fee is due. I'm also thinking I know better than to expect one.

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