Chiney Ogwumike says sports media needs to change the way it talks about women's sports. Chiney Ogwumike on X

The recent rise in popularity of women’s basketball has led to plenty of discussions about women’s sports.

And it’s seemingly led to just as many conversations about how we talk about women’s sports.

That included on Thursday when ESPN’s Chiney Ogwumike took to X to call for change in the current conversations surrounding women’s athletics. Over the course of a nearly three-minute video, the 2014 WNBA Rookie of the Year highlighted the magnitude of the moment and the need for such dialogue to match it.

“This is the moment that we’ve been waiting for in women’s basketball. And honestly, it’s bigger than that. This is the moment that we’ve been waiting for in women’s sports. But we cannot fumble it,” Ogwumike said. “This moment that we’re in was never guaranteed. But it’s here. We are all witnessing this unprecedented moment of change. And not just like regular shmegular change. That transformational change of equity, of opportunity, of how we see one another through the lens of sports.

“But here’s the problem: women’s sports are right now being subjected to some of the most polarizing aspects of society. The discourse is operating at the intersection of race, of gender. It’s even being weaponized by politics. The endless debates are overshadowing the beauty of the game. Yes, people are captivated. And don’t get me wrong, we want conversation. But we want it to be constructive. Which is why I hope that everyone sees that the dialogue surrounding women’s sports has to change.”

While she didn’t mention her by name, a lot of the recent conversation regarding women’s sports has centered on Caitlin Clark, with the Indiana Fever star rookie having become a lightning rod in sports. One week after a hard foul on Clark — and the ensuing fallout — became a mainstream talking point, the former Iowa star’s exclusion from Team USA’s roster for the upcoming Summer Olympics fueled another week-long news cycle.

To Ogwumike’s point, such conversations have touched on gender and race, with Clark — through no doing of her own — has also become a prop for politicians.

There’s no denying that women’s sports, particularly women’s basketball, are more popular than they were just six months ago. But if that growth is going to be meaningful, one of the sport’s most prominent public voices believes the conversations need to change.

“How do we do that? By not only creating spaces for the right voices but by also being willing to listen to what those voices have to say,” Ogwumike. “I mean that from the broadcasts, all the way down to the comment section… I think we need a moment of reset—a moment to catch our breath and listen. Truly listen. Because the growth of women’s sports, the growth of the women’s game, is happening. But we also have to learn from these growing pains.”

[Chiney Ogwumike on X]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.