Will decision about Caitlin Clark and Olympics be more about money or basketball?

Also in this week’s Olympic notebook, Katie Ledecky’s path to history gets easier, Paris organizers optimistic they’ll avoid financial losses of Rio and Tokyo

Indiana Fever's Caitlin Clark (22) looks to pass the ball as Atlanta Dream's Naz Hillmon defends during the second half of a WNBA preseason basketball game Thursday, May 9, 2024, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) (Darron Cummings, Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The big debate when it comes to Caitlin Clark’s Olympic hopes

Caitlin Clark, the phenom who has transcended women’s basketball the past two years, made her professional debut on Tuesday for the Indiana Fever of the WNBA.

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But there are two big questions in the coming weeks regarding Clark and her being in Paris as a member of the U.S. Women’s Basketball team for this summer’s Olympics.

One, will Clark be on the team? Two, will the decision be weighted more in basketball reasons, or financial ones?

Even as generational of a talent as Clark is, if it was strictly about basketball, she likely wouldn’t be considered seriously for the Olympic team that will carry 12 members.

There is a definite “you need to pay your dues” history when it comes to USA Basketball selecting players for the Olympic team, and there are talented American players who have been professionals for years who are seeking a chance to be in Paris.

ESPN recently detailed in an article a deep group of American guards who have professional and Olympic experience that Clark would have to beat out for a roster spot, and Clark also wasn’t able to participate in the squad’s initial training camp in early April because her Iowa Hawkeyes team was in the Final Four while the camp took place.

At age 22, Clark would be the youngest player on the roster, and ordinarily would probably be told, “prove your worth for the next four years and we’ll see you in Los Angeles come 2028.”

But of course, Clark has proven to be anything but ordinary with how she has brought in sellout crowds and record TV ratings for women’s basketball.

Heck, even the head coach of the team that beat Clark and Iowa in the national championship game, Dawn Staley of South Carolina, made it a point to publicly thank Clark for all she’s done for the game as South Carolina was accepting the trophy on stage.

From a financial sense, you think NBC and the International Olympic Committee see Clark’s impact and will simply say, “we understand” if Clark isn’t chosen for the team?

It will be mighty difficult for USA Basketball to ignore all the strong-arming from the IOC, NBC, and probably general sports fans who have been captivated by Clark.

However, it would also be difficult to tell a deserving professional there’s no Olympic roster spot for you despite all you’ve achieved.

No doubt, USA Basketball has quite a dilemma on its hands in the coming weeks before the team is announced (there is no set date yet, but it will likely be announced in June). Stay tuned for what likely be a controversial decision no matter what it ends up being.

Katie Ledecky’s path to another gold in 800 meters gets easier

American swimmer Katie Ledecky, who has won the last three Olympic gold medals in the 800 meters, saw her bid for a record fourth straight gold medal in the event get a bit easier last week.

Canadian phenom Summer McIntosh, a 17-year-old who in February became the first in 13 years to beat Ledecky in the 800 meters at an event in Florida, decided not to compete in the event at the Canadian Olympic trials that started this week.

McIntosh will be plenty busy, competing in the 100, 200 and 400 freestyle events, as well as the 200 and 400 individual medley, the 100 backstroke and 200 butterfly.

But her opting out of the 800 meters takes away a major rival for Ledecky in Paris.

Paris organizers optimistic Games won’t lose money

On Tuesday, Paris organizing committee CEO Étienne Thobois proclaimed that the Games are on budget and are expecting to break even financially at the very worst, according to an ESPN article.

It might seem like an odd goal to simply break even, but it would be somewhat of an achievement given how much of a financial hit Rio (a reported $2 billion) and Tokyo (a reported $800 million) took hosting the past two Summer Olympics.

“The target is not to make money,” Thobois said to reporters. “The target is just to deliver a spectacular Games and to do it on a balanced budget. That’s the aim.”

About the Author

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.

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