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VICTOR JOECKS: The opponent Caitlin Clark can’t beat

Caitlin Clark’s magical run through the women’s NCAA basketball tournament wouldn’t have happened if she had to compete against male players.

Sunday’s NCAA women’s championship game set viewing records, averaging an audience of 18.7 million people. Outside of football and the Olympics, it was the most watched sporting event since 2019. At local casinos, the game set a number of betting records.

It’s not hard to figure out what — or rather who — drew the public’s interest. It was Clark, the dominant Iowa point guard who consistently left audiences dazzled. She set a slew of records throughout her career. That included the NCAA’s Division I scoring record and single-season three-point record.

Clark garnered a massive audience. In the semifinals, Clark’s game drew double the viewership of the game without Iowa. But something threatens Clark’s brilliance — and women’s basketball more broadly.

Dawn Staley is the coach of the South Carolina women’s team, which beat Iowa in the championship. Before the game, a reporter asked if men who pretend they’re women should be allowed to play women’s sports.

“If you consider yourself a woman and you want to play sports or vice versa, you should be able to play,” she said.

Her attitude reflects current leftist dogma. Deviating from that illogical orthodoxy will earn you the scorn of cultural elites and could threaten your job. But it’s essential for preserving the opportunities for Clark and other women athletes.

That’s because there are biological differences between men and women. I can’t believe this has to be spelled out, but men are taller, stronger and faster than women. As such, the best male athletes outperform their female counterparts. Sports such as basketball allow athletes to compound those advantages, widening male advantages.

The breathtaking step-back threes Clark drains over defenders might get stuffed in her face by an elite high school male defender. A WNBA player dunking a basketball is a major event. It’s unremarkable when a high school boy does it.

Per Staley’s logic, a mediocre male Division I basketball player could become a top women’s player simply by claiming he’s a woman. That’s not a hypothetical. At various levels, it’s already happened in many sports, including swimming, skiing, cycling, weightlifting and track.

It’s even happened here in Nevada. Last year, The Blaze reported on a boy who said he’s a girl running track for North Valleys High School in Reno. He ran on two state championship-winning relay teams.

There are welcome signs of sanity. On Monday, the NAIA, a group of small colleges, banned men from competing in women’s sports. Former top-ranked women’s tennis player Martina Navratilova has spoken out against the practice. The Independent Council on Women’s Sports, known as ICONS, is suing the NCAA for allowing men to compete against women. They argue it violates Title IX.

As skilled as she is, Clark can’t compete successfully against elite male basketball players. Nor should she and other women have to.

Listen to Victor Joecks discuss his columns each Monday at 7 a.m. with Kevin Wall on AM 670 KMZQ Right Talk. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on X.

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