Caitlin Clark Didn't Make the Cut for Team USA — Here's Why She Won't Be an Olympian

Caitlin Clark will be on our fantasy Team USA roster, anyway, even if the selection committee disagrees.

Alex West - Author

Jun. 29 2024, Published 1:00 p.m. ET

Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever reacts during the fourth quarter against the Seattle Storm
Source: Getty Images

Basketball player Caitlin Clark ushered in a new wave of excitement around women's sports. Ratings for college basketball skyrocketed and, when she was drafted to the WNBA, the same was said for the professional league.

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Now, fans have their eyes set on the Paris 2024 Olympics. Historically, Team USA has dominated most sports, especially basketball. However, their favorite female basketball player won't be on the team this year.

Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever dribbles the ball during a game against the Washington Mystics
Source: Getty Images
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Why isn't Caitlin Clark on the Olympic team?

The selection process for the Olympics is grueling and there is a lot that goes into making that final cut. According to Inc., selection committee chair Jen Rizzotti explained that Caitlin simply doesn't have the right skills to compete at the Olympic level. While she's certainly talented, the international stage comes with some different pacing and strategy, albeit the same game.

Plus, there's the aspect of meshing a team together to play to different strengths and weaknesses. While Caitlin might be a star on her team, it doesn't mean she'd be the most ideal player for every team.

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"It would be irresponsible for us to talk about [Caitlin] in a way other than how she would impact the play of the team. Because it wasn't the purview of our committee to decide how many people would watch or how many people would root for the U.S. It was our purview to create the best team we could for Cheryl," she said.

There was definitely pressure on the selection committee to drive viewership. After all, Caitlin did create some massive stardom and unprecedented views, but that's not the most important priority of Team USA.

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Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever speaks during a press conference before the game against the Atlanta Dream
Source: Getty Images

"Here's the basketball criteria that we were given as a committee, and how do we evaluate our players based on that?" Rizzotti told the AP. "And when you base your decision on criteria, there were other players that were harder to cut because they checked a lot more boxes. Then sometimes it comes down to position, style of play for [coach Reeve] and then sometimes a vote."

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As for Caitlin's reaction, she's been pretty optimistic about the cut. "I think it just gives you something to work for," she told reporters according to a post on X. "It's a dream. Hopefully one day I can be there. I think it's just a little more motivation. You remember that. Hopefully, when four years comes back, I can be there."

Are professional athletes allowed to compete in the Olympics?

Caitlin's professional status didn't preclude her from joining the team. In fact, plenty of WNBA and NBA athletes have played on the Olympic court before and professionals are totally welcome in today's world.

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Caitlin Clark of the Indiana Fever is seen on Day Four of the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Swimming Trials
Source: Getty Images

However, in the beginning of the modern Olympics, professionals weren't supposed to be a part of the events. Pierre de Coubertin, who founded the International Olympic Committee, wanted to uplift people with all-around skills, rather than just those specializing in their sport. According to Rules of Sport, he felt that pros had an unfair advantage and wanted the Olympics to be for the amateurs.

Who is on the Team USA Women's Basketball roster?

  • A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces
  • Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut Sun
  • Breanna Stewart, New York Liberty
  • Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury
  • Chelsea Gray, Las Vegas Aces
  • Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
  • Jackie Young, Las Vegas Aces
  • Jewell Loyd, Seattle Storm
  • Kahleah Copper, Phoenix Mercury
  • Kelsey Plum
  • Napheesa Collier, Minnesota Lynx
  • Sabrina Ionescu, New York Liberty
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