Sheryl Swoopes discussing Caitlin Clark on Gil's Arena. Sheryl Swoopes discussing Caitlin Clark on Gil’s Arena. (@TraeK on Twitter.)

There’s certainly a lot of prominence for hot sports takes in 2024. It often seems like the loudest opinions on any subject are the ones that get the most notice, and that leads to those kinds of takes being amplified and repeated.

However, strong opinions are one thing;. Getting the facts underlying them wrong is something else entirely, and something rarely done by the most prominent take purveyors. And that’s the mistake WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes made with her criticisms of Iowa women’s basketball star Caitlin Clark on Gilbert Arenas’ Gil’s Arena, where she egregiously misstated how much time Clark has spent in college:

As noted by Yahoo’s Jacob Keppen, Swoopes tried to say that Clark’s path to the all-time NCAA women’s basketball scoring record (Kelsey Plum’s 3,527 career points: Clark has 3,462 through Saturday) is illegitimate because she’s had more time to do it:

“If you’re going to break a record, to me, if it’s legitimate, you have to break that record in the same amount of time that that player set it. Right. So, if Kelsey Plum set that record in four years, well, Caitlin should have broken that record in four years,” Swoope said. “But because there’s a COVID year, and then there’s another year, you know what I mean? She’s already had an extra year to break that record. So is it truly a broken record?”

But, as Keppen notes, that’s a completely erroneous analogy. One key problem here is mixing up how COVID-19 affected different NCAA competitions. Yes, the governing body wound up giving many athletes an extra year of eligibility due to the pandemic’s effects on their competitions, but the most-actually-affected competitions were the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in 2020 and then the spring sports.

The fall-winter sports in late 2020 saw some effects from the pandemic, especially from leagues that started late or played the following spring (FCS football). But in women’s basketball, the primary 2020-21 season effect was only a later start than normal. And Clark is currently in her fourth season, just as Plum was when she set the record. There is a potential extra year of eligibility for Clark due to COVID if she doesn’t elect to head to the WNBA this offseason, but that has absolutely nothing to do with this current record quest, which is taking place in the same timeframe as Plum’s (contrary to Swoopes’ assertions here).

This is also perhaps a larger problem with shows that prominently feature athlete hosts or guests but offer no pushback on obvious misinformation. We’ve seen it with Aaron Rodgers’ bits on The Pat McAfee Show and many more instances. And while Gil’s Arena has done plenty of positive things, it certainly didn’t look great here with the lack of disputing these factually-incorrect assertions from Swoopes. And that might have gone differently on a show hosted by a more traditional journalist.

No one is saying that Swoopes can’t get off her opinions on Clark. If she truly feels Clark is being overrated and can’t adapt to the WNBA game, those are opinions she can express. But she would do better to base those opinions on actual facts rather than offering non-factual information to support them. And Gil’s Arena also deserves some criticism for platforming this kind of inaccuracy and not pushing back on it.

[Yahoo Sports]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.