Hear, Hear, Caitlin Clark!

International Women’s Day is coming up on March 8, and advertisers are sure to pay their respects. But it’s easy to classify that day in the category of other celebrations like Black History Month. Each of these subjects deserves reverence, of course, but it should be a living, breathing, constant thing, not limited to a particular day or month in the year.

Nike, which didn’t sign its first female athlete, Mia Hamm, until 1994, a decade after Michael Jordan, has come a long way in “getting it” and giving props to women.

In particular, Nike’s International Women’s Day ad in 2020 made the point about celebration limitation extremely well.

The ad’s narration put it all in perspective.

“One day… we won’t need a day to celebrate how far we’ve come. We won’t need a day to prove we’re just as fast or strong or skilled.”



It ended with: “One day, we won’t need this day at all. Because one day this day will be our every day.”

These days, Caitlin Clark is the dream-come-true embodiment of all that.

In a phenomenal line of record-breaking, this Sunday the Iowa Hawkeyes’ senior guard did it again, passing Pete Maravich's all-time Division I college basketball scoring record of 3,667.

She's now scored more than any Division I college basketball player -- man or woman -- in history. 

And with each groundbreaking achievement, Clark herself is characteristically humble, grateful to her teammates, and full of grace.

At halftime during the Hawkeye’s game against Michigan on Feb. 15, when Clark had just made more history by becoming the all-time leading scorer in NCAA Division I Women's Basketball, she said “It's cool. It's cool to be in the same realm as a lot of really, really good players.” She added: "I'm lucky to do it because I have really good teammates and really good coaches and a great support system that surrounds me."

Clark has been the nucleus of this golden moment in women’s college basketball for a while. Nike signed her in 2022, the first year that college athletes were allowed to accept outside payments.

Last month, after she became the leading scorer for women’s Division 1 basketball, Nike released a jersey T-shirt honoring her. The shirt is black and gold, the colors of Iowa's uniform. The front features the six-word slogan “You break it, you own it,” above a Nike swoosh. On the back are Clark's name, her number 22, and a golden Hawkeye logo.

“You break it, you own it” is a strong statement for anybody, with a “go hard” attitude. And Caitlin’s owning the record-breaking part with immense professionalism and a dash of humor.

But for oldies like myself, “You break it…” conjures up what then-Secretary of State Colin Powell called “the Pottery Barn rule” in 2002, when he cautioned President George W. Bush about entering a war with Iraq.

Not to worry: the phrase made famous 22 years ago (the year of Clark’s birth) doesn’t seem to have the same resonance with her fans. The T-shirts have already sold out and set records of their own, breaking the NIL numbers previously held by Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders.

And the “You break it,” bit is as tough as any of the other slogans Nike has come up with for its sports megastars, regardless of gender.

But special kudos go to the Just-Do-It-people for unveiling perhaps the most gender-equal ad Nike has ever created. Anticipating the record-breaking to come, the Swooshsters installed a banner and billboard on two buildings in downtown Iowa City before the start of the game.

One banner covers a seven-story building and displays a gigantic and elegant image of Clark taking one of her miraculously long jump shots. The caption under it reads, “This was never a long shot.”

A building across the street sports a giant basket.

Not only is this smile-inducing and clever, but what I love about it is the scale. It measures up to the great Nike banners of male sports icons past, including the shoe and apparel company’s numerous gravity-defying images of their god, Michael Jordan.

So here, some fifty years since Title X made it possible for girls to play sports on teams in middle school and high school, Caitlin is the realization of that dream -- and only growing in stature as an equal player in the halls of Nike.

The astounding 3-point maker won’t need a day to prove she’s “just as fast or strong or skilled…. . Because one day this day will be our every day.”

Thank you, Caitlin.

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