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Tom Mayenknecht: Everyone is angry about the guard Caitlin Clark from the Hawkeyes

Opinion: Everyone’s upset about Caitlin Clark of the Hawkeyes

Bulls of the Week

Two words: Caitlin Clark.

By leading her Iowa Hawkeyes to a March Madness victory this week against West Virginia, she attracted an average of 4.9 million American TV viewers on ESPN, the largest ever outside of an NCAA Women’s Final Four.

Ice Cube offered her a chance to play 10 games of Big 3 three-on-three basketball for a cool US$5 million, and U.S.A. Basketball invited her to its Paris 2024 training camp.

And all of this before she is selected in the WNBA draft this summer.

Bears of the Week

Major League Baseball held 13 home openers on Thursday, and attendance was strong everywhere except in Oakland.

The Athletics are currently searching for a stadium deal in Las Vegas to materialize the approved relocation to Nevada by the board of governors.

Owner John Fisher’s legacy won’t be popular in Oakland, as the team's opening day attendance has dropped from 44,815 in 2005 — the year he took over operations of the A’s franchise — to 13,522 on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Carlyle Group billionaire David Rubenstein’s purchase of the Baltimore Orioles for a valuation of US$1.725 billion was officially approved this week, making it only the fifth MLB franchise sale in 12 years. In comparison, the NBA and NHL each had 12 franchise sales since 2013, and MLS had 16.

However, the investigation into the Shohei Ohtani-Ippei Mizuhara betting scandal continues to overshadow everything else in the baseball world since the bizarre revelations were made at the Seoul Series’ games on April 20-21 at Gocheok Sky Dome.

Even after Ohtani read a brief statement in Japanese at a tightly controlled “media conference” on Monday, there are still many more questions than answers on that front, including why no charges have been brought against Mizuhara if he indeed stole US$4.5 million from Ohtani’s bank account.

And, the best way to describe MLB going into the regular season is as average. According to Sportico, the average MLB franchise is valued at US$2.64 billion, placing it in the middle among the major men’s pro sports leagues in North America, where it ranks third of the big five.

The NFL is valued the highest at an average of US$5.4 billion per franchise, with the NBA following at US$4 billion. The NHL remains fourth at US$1.31 billion, while MLS is at US$678 million.

It’s important to note that the NFL (which saw a 24 percent increase in valuation year-over-year) and the NBA (33 percent) have widened the gap at the top of the charts. MLB grew by 12 percent, a respectable standalone figure but lower compared to the other major leagues operating in the U.S. and Canada. The NHL saw a 29 percent year-over-year growth, and MLS increased its average value by 16 percent.

If Ohtani is cleared of any wrongdoing, MLB will likely continue to grow at a reasonable rate or even more in the coming years. If there’s a worst-case scenario, however, that positive growth trajectory could be seriously affected.

Yet, as the concerning situation involving Toronto Raptor Jontay Porter illustrates, no league and no sport is immune to the potential for misconduct related to sports betting. This is why nothing but clear player education, thorough oversight, and decisive enforcement of league rules are necessary in this era of legalized, single-event wagering.

Tom Mayenknecht hosts The Sport Market on Sportsnet 650 on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. He is a sport business commentator based in Vancouver and a principal in Emblematica Brand Builders. He provides an inside look at the important sport business stories for fans. You can follow Mayenknecht at: twitter.com/TheSportMarket.

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