Caitlin Clark's bittersweet announcement to enter WNBA Draft is the right decision for the Iowa legend

Iowa fans know they are watching the end of an outstanding career for Caitlin Clark for the Hawkeyes. But the best is yet to come for No. 22.

Iowa v Indiana
Iowa v Indiana / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

Caitlin Clark has changed the game and will soon change home courts. For Iowa fans, it's a bittersweet realization that one of the most legendary figures in Hawkeyes sports history will forgo one more season in Iowa City and play her last game in Black & Gold within a matter of weeks.

Of course, even with Clark's Thursday announcement that she will enter the 2024 WNBA Draft at the conclusion of the season, there is still one goal on the horizon that women's basketball fans would love to see her achieve. That's winning the National Championship with her teammates in Cleveland this April.

The Indiana Fever will no doubt select Clark with the first overall pick on April 15 and usher in a new era of fans from a few hours away in Iowa City and Des Moines. And that's exactly why Clark's decision to enter the WNBA season is the right one, regardless if the Hawkeyes win a national championship or not.

Clark is easily one of the most recognizable faces in all of women's sports right now, and to fully capitalize on that is a massive moment for women's sports. While the WNBA has certainly had its superstars over the years, the shining star of Caitlin Clark in the league will be monumental for all, not just the sharpshooter superstar.

Sunday's matchup with Ohio State is a prominent example, as it has a direct correlation to what her being in the WNBA means. Ticket prices are in the ballpark of $557 for non-general admission for the regular-season finale. The top five most expensive tickets, and seven of the top 10, in women's basketball history have been at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. That includes the WNBA and the women's NCAA tournament.

Last year, the Fever averaged fewer than 4,000 fans at their games. Sure, they are picking first overall for a reason, but the difference Clark will have will be monumental for the franchise and the sport.

For women's sports to get the attention they deserve, there has to be revenue, that's how the world works. Having a talent like Clark thrust into the WNBA brings revenue the league has never seen before - not with Sue Bird, Maya Moore, Diana Taurasi or any other great women's basketball player you can think to name.

Clark has shattered records at Iowa, and she still has work to do over the next several weeks. Fans of Iowa and women's sports are in her corner, hoping she achieves great things in her last few college games.

But, thankfully, on the other side, she'll be able to accomplish even more. And just as has been the case her entire career, everything she accomplishes isn't just for herself - it's for her team, it's for her sport and it's for all women's athletics.

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