Sports critics offered mixed reactions to reports that Caitlin Clark will not be heading to Paris to join the U.S. women’s basketball team at the Olympics this summer.

The Indiana Fever rookie — the all-time NCAA Division I basketball scoring leader — didn’t make the 12-player roster in a year where Team USA veterans such as Phoenix Mercury stars Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi, New York Liberty’s Breanna Stewart and Las Vegas Aces’ A’ja Wilson made the cut, according to multiple outlets.

Others making the women’s squad include Minnesota Lynx’s Napheesa Collier, Mercury’s Kahleah Copper, Liberty’s Sabrina Ionescu, Seattle Storm’s Jewell Loyd, Connecticut Sun’s Alyssa Thomas as well as Aces’ Chelsea Gray, Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young.

Clark ― the No. 1 pick in the 2024 WNBA draft who joined the league ahead of a notable growth in popularity ― would have been the fifth league rookie to make the Olympic team, a move that Sylvia Fowles, Candace Parker, Stewart and Taurasi all made in prior years.

Sources told USA Today’s Christine Brennan that concern over how Clark’s massive fanbase would respond to “what would likely be limited playing time” on the veteran-heavy Team USA roster played a role in the decision.

Team USA, which has won the gold medal at every summer Olympics since 1996, are expected to repeat in Paris.

Sports commentator Mike Lupica slammed the decision to leave Clark off the roster on social media, calling it “monumentally dumb.”

“It must be comforting to Caitlin Clark today that people who’ve been chirping at her since she got to the WNBA now think her being left off the Olympic team is really a good thing for her,” he wrote.

“The blowback on this young woman continues to be amazing.”

ESPN’s Linda Cohn, in a post responding to a Fever-Washington Mystics game that recently drew over 20,000 fans, called the decision a “lost opportunity.”

“All she does is grow the game, pack arenas, and set rookie records. What a short sighted decision,” Cohn wrote.

Jemele Hill wrote that Clark not being on the Team USA roster “is actually a good thing” for her.

“In the span of weeks, she went from playing college ball, to becoming a professional, to having a grind of schedule. A multi-week break probably isn’t the worst thing in the world. She will eventually make an Olympic team,” Hill wrote.

She wrote that people need to “stop panicking” and noted that the league will have Clark “for a long time.”

“Her popularity isn’t going anywhere. The league isn’t going to fall off a cliff if she’s not on the team, and every single decision can’t be about placating the optics around one player,” she wrote.

You can check out more takes on Clark not making the Olympic team below.


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