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Tuesday, March 05, 2024

Caitlin Clark is a Great Player, but She did not Break Pete Maravich's Division I Career Scoring Record

Caitlin Clark is a tremendous basketball player. She has established herself as one of the greatest female college basketball players of all-time, and there is every reason to believe that she will be a great professional player as well. Women's basketball is better than it has ever been, and Clark is one of the players who is leading the way.

However--contrary to recent reports--Clark is not the all-time Division I career scoring leader, because Division I exists in two separate categories. There is a women's Division I career scoring record (that is the one that Clark broke). Clark did not break the record set by "Pistol Pete" Maravich, who scored 3667 points in men's Division I. I say this not just because Maravich set his record in three varsity seasons while averaging 44.2 ppg in 83 games, compared to Clark averaging 28.3 ppg in 130 games in four seasons (though I would separately argue that there should be a three year Division I record and a four year Division I record because in Maravich's era by rule it was not possible to play four varsity seasons); I say this because Maravich played a different sport: men's basketball and women's basketball are two different sports, and to suggest otherwise is to deny reality. As great as Clark is, it is doubtful that she could start for any Division I men's team, let alone come close to averaging 28.3 ppg while playing versus Division I men. That is not a knock against Clark. There are biological differences between men and women; men tend to be bigger, stronger, and faster, and that is the reason that most sports--particularly at the elite level--have a men's category and a women's category. 

There seems to be a notion that comparing Clark to Maravich somehow elevates the women's game, but anyone with sense understands the obvious differences between men and women. Keeping men's records separate from women's records reflects the reality of those differences, and underscores the value of having two fully funded, separate leagues. Also, having separate records enables fans to celebrate the accomplishments of all of the great players in both sports. What if at some point the artificially combined records included only one woman in the top 10, and the other nine players were men? Then, instead of having two top 10 lists showcasing the scoring prowess of the best players in each sport, the feats of other women players would be forgotten. By the same token, in sports where it is unlikely that women would ever crack the combined top 10 (such as sprinting), it would not be right to merge the records, either.

It should further be noted that Clark is not even the career scoring leader in the women's college game. That distinction belongs to Pearl Moore, who played in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) at a time when women's basketball was not an NCAA sport. The NCAA does not acknowledge statistics from prior to 1982, much like the NBA does not officially count ABA statistics; both stances are historically and morally wrong. 

Those who seek to promote women's sports should focus on persuading the NCAA to admit that women's college basketball did not begin when the NCAA belatedly joined the party in 1982; instead of comparing Clark to Maravich, advocates for women's sports should compare Clark to Moore and insist that Moore receive full credit for her accomplishments during an era when women had very limited opportunities to play sports in general and basketball in particular.  

Recent attempts to blur the distinction between men's records and women's records do not uplift the women's game; this is not only a false equivalence, but it subliminally suggests that a women's record only matters in comparison to whatever the men's record is. Clark's career scoring numbers did not become more significant when her total in women's play surpassed Maravich's total in men's play. A cynic could wonder if blurring the distinction between men's records and women's records is a prelude for suggesting that separate men's sports and women's sports are not needed at all--and that would not benefit women at all, but we already see this happening with people who are biologically men petitioning for the right to compete as women against biological women. The notion that there are no biological differences between men and women threatens to undo many of the gains that women have made in recent decades toward obtaining equal rights and equal opportunities; it is puzzling that more feminists do not seem to understand this. A more authentic feminist position would be to assert that women's sports have intrinsic value without being compared to or merged with men's sports.

It should not be necessary to say this, but I want to emphasize again that I am not diminishing what Clark has accomplished. It should be obvious that I am praising her as one of the greatest women's college basketball players of all-time. I am a "girl Dad" as the current parlance puts it, and I encourage my daughter Rachel to play rated tournament chess--she has exclusively played in co-ed events up to this point--in addition to playing basketball and any other sport that interests her (including swimming, ice skating, and gymnastics). I support girls' sports and women's sports, and I believe that those sports have intrinsic merit without being compared to boys' sports and men's sports; of course, when a female successfully competes head to head with males--as Judit Polgar did for many years in world-class open chess tournaments--that should be celebrated, as any great sports accomplishment should be celebrated.

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posted by David Friedman @ 1:39 AM



At Tuesday, March 05, 2024 10:47:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


No, she didn't. You can't break a record when you are not competing against the same people. Men's Division I teams do not play against women's Division I teams, so the records are in two separate categories.

Do you really believe that Clark could start for any men's Division I team? Do you understand that when women's Division I teams scrimmage against men in practice they play against men who are not even close to being good enough play for Division I men's teams? No women's Division I team would scrimmage against a Men's Division I team, because such a game would be a mismatch based on size, strength, and speed.

At Tuesday, March 05, 2024 11:33:00 AM, Anonymous PBB22 said...

["men’s basketball and women’s basketball are two different sports"]

["as great as Clark is, it is doubtful that she could start for any D1 men’s team"]

["instead of comparing Clark to Maravich, [they] should compare Clark to Moore"]

["I’m not diminishing what Clark has accomplished"]

Make all of this make sense. Because you are diminishing it lol

She has the most points in NCAA history - gender has nothing to do with it. Thats worthy of celebrating.

["I am a Girl Dad"]

There’s this thing where people say “oh I love my wife/daughter” and assume it absolves them of any other problem with the statement. Dudes like that carve out space for women close to them, while still keeping other women out. You’re still diminishing a women’s accomplishments and telling feminism how it should behave.

At Tuesday, March 05, 2024 11:53:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Do you disagree with the truth of any of my statements that you quoted? More to the point, can you present evidence proving that I am wrong about what I asserted?

Clark could not start for any Division 1 men's team. That is a fact. That is why there is a separate women's college basketball structure in the first place.

The record that Clark chased is not Maravich's, but Moore's. Moore deserves to be acknowledged by the NCAA and by media members.

There is a reason that the NCAA keeps separate records by Division, and there is a reason that the NCAA keeps separate men's and women's records. Just as the all-time leading Division II scorer is not competing with Maravich's Division I record, the all-time leading Division I women's scorer is not competing with Maravich's Division I record.

I actively support and encourage my daughter's participation in sports, both co-ed and female-only. That is a lot different than someone making an empty statement of how they feel.

I have a right to have an opinion about feminism (as do you and everyone else).

You cannot refute anything that I wrote, so you just make ad hominem attacks. Don't waste your time replying if you do not have any facts to bring to the conversation.

At Tuesday, March 05, 2024 12:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clark is the greatest college women's player I've ever seen. She's bringing so much excitement to women's basketball, but I can't see this excitement remotely remaining once this season finishes though credit to the sport as it'll still be somewhat popular.

I agree with a lot of what you're saying. I don't like it when they include men when it's a woman breaking a record. They don't include women when men are breaking a record. They're trying to hard to make a point. Each are separate sports too, yes. And you're right, it diminishes women's sports even more when anyone combines men and women, but it also diminishes men's sports.

But, when you say 'Clark is not the all-time Division 1 scoring leader,' I'm confused. Is she not? If not, who is? My understanding is that Maravich is for men, and Clark is for women, correct?

There is definitely no way Clark could play Division 1 men's basketball, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's just biology, and that's why we have separate divisions for men and women. The top women in a sport only have a chance to compete with the top men in a sport when that sport is almost entirely a skilled or technical sport such as bowling or golf. But even then, the top men will certainly do better overall. And thank you bringing up what's happening or trying to happen in some places where biological men are changing genders and then wanting to compete in women's sports. Such a farce. This only hurts women's sports, which should be easy to see but unfortunately isn't to many.

At Tuesday, March 05, 2024 12:49:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


There is not one all-time Division I scoring leader; that is my point, if I did not make that sufficiently clear (perhaps I should edit the article accordingly).

Maravich is the all-time Division I scoring leader for men, and Clark is the all-time Division I scoring leader for women.

At Tuesday, March 05, 2024 8:37:00 PM, Anonymous Michael said...

You don’t need to edit the article. It’s not your fault if others completely misinterpret your reasonable, fact-based analysis. You gave Clark ample credit for her record in her division and correctly noted that Maravich’s record is in a completely separate division that has a notably higher level of play. The records are both impressive but are rightfully separate from one another. Pete Maravich would have probably averaged at least 60 points per game if he had played in a Division I league for women while Clark would not set a single record, and would receive very little playing time, if she were to play in a Division I league for men. Can something be genuinely misogynistic if it’s completely true and presented in a considerate yet objective manner?

At Tuesday, March 05, 2024 8:56:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Thank you for getting it. Today I have seen some things (not just in this Comments section) that make me question the basic reading comprehension levels of many people.

At Tuesday, March 05, 2024 11:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I understand the difference between men and women's divisions, as there should be distinctions between each. When we talk about any sport that a particular player plays, we talk about only those players that player plays against or we should talk, except for these rare weird occasions the media combines men/women for example with Clark. Clark and Maravich are in each separate divisions and each are the Division 1 scoring leaders. You talk a lot about accuracy in your article. It's accurate to say Clark didn't break Maravich's scoring record, but it isn't accurate to say Clark isn't the Division 1 scoring leader, because she is. Just because there's separate divisions(men and women) doesn't mean she's not the Division 1 scoring leader. Just as it's accurate to say Maravich is also the Division 1 scoring leader.

At Wednesday, March 06, 2024 12:20:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Prior to you making this comment, I edited my article to make it crystal clear that Clark is the Division I women's leader, and that Maravich is the Division I men's leader. I thought that this was clear initially, but now I have made it clear beyond any doubt.

My main issue is with media members who assert that Clark broke Maravich's record. I also have a issue with the NCAA pretending that women's college basketball did not exist before 1982.

At Wednesday, March 06, 2024 12:39:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Judit Polgar was a top ten chess player in the world at one point, that is, she held her own against the best male players on the planet.

But basketball ain't chess.

Annie Duke won a World Series of Poker bracelet; she successfully sat at the table with the world's best poker players.

But basketball ain't poker.

There are compelling arguments for coed chess clubs and genderless poker tables, for putting the girls against the boys, even stevens. Men are arguably better than women at chess and poker only because of sexist self-fulfilling prophesies. The patriarchy! If more girls were raised like Judit Polgar was, with her father a chess enthusiast who made sure his daughters ate and breathed chess basically from birth, I have no doubt that there'd be more women going toe-to-toe with men at the chessboard.

There seems to be no biological reason for men being so dominant at chess.

The same line of reasoning holds for poker.

But as you very reasonably argue, women simply can't compete with men at the highest levels of sports like basketball or tennis that are based on speed and strength.

At Wednesday, March 06, 2024 11:59:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Yes, and my point is that Clark's record is significant without being compared to Maravich's record. Women who compete "even steven" with men in chess, poker, and other endeavors should be recognized, but women who excel against other women--like Clark--do not have to be compared to men for validation.

At Wednesday, March 06, 2024 8:14:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that Clark doesn't need comparison with Pistol Pete for validation. Certainly Serena Williams' 23 major titles need no comparison with any men for validation of her greatness.

But then again, Serena's 23 titles came from best-out-of-three matches whereas her male contemporary peers - Fed, Djokovic, and Rafa - each won their 20-something majors in best out of five.

Maybe feminists should argue for female five-setters at the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open.

Not being snarky. I think that to truly believe in EQUALITY for women, in addition to equal money one should advocate for equal-endurance at women's major tournaments.

I always thought it was disingenuous for the Williams sisters et al. to fight for equal pay but not fight for five-setters too. But they got their cake and they're eating it too.

Unless there are issues with female physiology as opposed to male physiology that warrant three-setters, no compelling reason for them to play less than men.

At Wednesday, March 06, 2024 8:41:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


The other part of the "equal money" equation is that the money that is paid to athletes is directly tied to TV ratings, ticket sales, and other revenue sources based on a sport's popularity. Professional sports is not a conventional employment situation where one can just say "equal pay for equal work." Even if women played five set matches, if the attendance figures and TV ratings for the women's matches did not equal those of the men's game then it would not be reasonable (or economically feasible) for the women to receive equal prize money.

At Thursday, March 07, 2024 12:25:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


That's a really good point, your distinction between equality and EQUITY in so many words. Women have every right to play as much basketball as men do and to earn as much money as men do at playing basketball. But they don't have the right to make as much money as men, just because they are entitled to do so as women. This is the whole EQUAL OPPORTUNITY not necessarily EQUAL RESULTS thing.

For example, it makes me uncomfortable, from a feminist standpoint, that the WNBA is so dependent on the NBA.

I thought that feminism was about women making their own way and not being dependent on men.

Shouldn't the WNBA be a totally independent organization not looking to the men for handouts? Shouldn't the WNBA sink or swim on their own, like, take it upon themselves to become a profitable organization?

Women's rights include the right to fail. Where's the WNBA's entrepreneurial spirit?

It's a travesty for women's rights, the fact that the WNBA is subsidized by the NBA. As if women can't survive and actually make "a league of their own".

At least the Williams sisters were the biggest draws in ALL OF TENNIS MALE OR FEMALE in their heyday. So, at least from their unique sisterly standpoint, their argument for equal pay was actually quite compelling.

At Thursday, March 07, 2024 1:16:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Excellent points, and the point about the distinction between equal opportunity and equal results is very important, because insisting on equal results is the path toward socialism--which ultimately does not produce equal results, anyway!

I agree about the WNBA, and I suspect that many people don't know (or care) how dependent on the NBA the WNBA has been.

To the extent that the Williams sisters were the biggest draws in tennis, they earned the right to make the most money.

At Thursday, March 07, 2024 11:57:00 AM, Anonymous TR said...

David, a question regarding your line "contrary to recent reports": To the best of your knowledge, is the NCAA perpetuating this story that blends Maravich and Clark, or is the media? I realize the NCAA's feelings may influence the media, but it's still an interesting distinction to make, IMO.

Outstanding article as always, I especially appreciate the part about Pearl Moore.

At Thursday, March 07, 2024 12:10:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


The NCAA is officially promoting the notion that Clark broke Maravich's record (and that other women broke various men's Division I records): https://www.ncaa.org/news/2024/3/3/features-caitlin-clark-joins-rare-company-to-hold-ncaa-records-across-mens-and-womens-basketball.aspx

Division I women do not compete against Division I men, so it is not clear how women can break men's records (or how men could break women's records).

At Thursday, March 07, 2024 3:34:00 PM, Anonymous TR said...

I agree with you - had been hoping it was perhaps an invention of the often-unserious media. Too bad to see this coming from the NCAA.

At Thursday, March 07, 2024 11:06:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Yes, it is unfortunate. In addition to being historically inaccurate--a person cannot break a record without competing in the same event category--this does not help women or women's sports, because to suggest that there is no difference between men's Division I and women's Division I is to argue that there is no reason to have two separate Division I categories.

At Friday, March 08, 2024 12:38:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I came across your post about Bob Mcadoo - numbers don't lie and I got some questions

Do you have links to some of your old stats-based articles that I can peruse?

Who was your favorite interview? Any stories you can share?

At Friday, March 08, 2024 1:36:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I am not sure which "stats-based articles" you are referencing. In the right hand sidebar of 20 Second Timeout's main page, there are sections with links to articles about "100/100 Club, 5x5 Club" and "Advanced Basketball Statistics." You can also do a keyword search of the entire site using the search box in the upper left-hand corner. There are almost 2900 posts here to search.

My favorite interview will always be Julius Erving, who I interviewed more than once. Other interviews that stand out for me include Oscar Robertson, Walt Frazier, Dave Bing, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant, Mark Aguirre, and Bob McAdoo. All of the ABA guys are special, including but not limited to Mel Daniels, Slick Leonard, George Gervin, Artis Gilmore, Bobby Jones, Rick Barry, Billy Cunningham, Warren Jabali, James Silas, Larry Miller, Joe Caldwell, David Thompson, Mike Gale, Fatty Taylor, and Ollie Taylor. Coaches, GMs, and scouts who provided special insights in one on one interviews include Hubie Brown, Lenny Wilkens, Pat Williams, Bob Bass, Jerry Colangelo, Kevin Mackey, Hank Egan, Paul Westhead, Paul Silas, and Steve Kerr. I enjoyed interviewing Phil Jackson and Larry Brown in group settings but never had either of them one on one.

I also enjoyed interviewing many of the Russell-era Celtics, including Bob Cousy, Tommy Heinsohn, K.C. Jones, John Havlicek, and Satch Sanders.

Dolph Schayes and Bill Tosheff played in the pre-shot clock era, so it was interesting to talk about those times.

Two all-time greats who I met and spoke with but did not formally interview are Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

All of the interviews were special for one reason or another, but the ones listed above are some of the ones that stand out.

At Friday, March 08, 2024 5:35:00 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

Agree about keeping men's and women's records separate. But, really want to comment on your last comment David. What an amazing list of people you've been able to interview over your life and career. Truly remarkable.

At Friday, March 08, 2024 7:55:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Thank you! Yes, it's been a great run, particularly considering that I grew up 100 miles from the nearest NBA team and I have never attended a single journalism class.

At Saturday, March 09, 2024 3:53:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now CAitlin Clark has broken Steph Curry's three-point record! [SMH] As if shooting over women with a smaller ball were exactly like what Steph did at Davidson. Ridiculous! Nothing wrong with arguing that what she is doing, proportionally, is as great as what Steph did back in the day.

For example, it does not diminish Sugar Ray Leonard's greatness to describe his as one of the alltime great "pound for pound" boxers. No disrespect that he, a middleweight, couldn't compete with a heavyweight like Muhammad Ali or a Joe Frazier.

Why are most media now seemingly incapable of doing "pound for pound" reasoning re: the Caitlin Clarks of the world as compared to the Steph Currys?

At Saturday, March 09, 2024 11:44:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Exactly. There is nothing wrong with the proportional argument, or even just comparing Clark to other great women players. It is ridiculous to compare men's Division I with women's Division I.

It is worth noting that no one is suggesting "combining" the records in track and field or swimming or weightlifting, because then no women would appear on the all-time leader lists. It is obvious that "combining" the basketball records is based on a combination of marketing/politics, and it is also obvious that this not only makes no sense, but has the potential to backfire: if the records should be "combined," then why are the sports separate in the first place? It would be a shame if the women's sports programs that women fought so hard to obtain just a few decades ago are dismantled, or if they are rendered meaningless because males by birth are permitted to compete alongside females by birth, which I think is part of the agenda behind "combining" records and blurring distinctions in general.

It is amazing that anyone would think that it is misogynistic to insist that women's records have intrinsic value without being compared with or "combined" with men's records, but I have received some feedback of that nature (most of my readers have more sense than that).

At Sunday, March 10, 2024 11:42:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They're just manufacturing headlines for clicks. No one believes it's a real record

At Sunday, March 10, 2024 10:13:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, you have edited your initial article, but you still state: ' Clark is not the all-time Division 1 career scoring leader.' This is still factually incorrect. You are correct to distinguish the difference between men and women, but it is incorrect to state Clark isn't the career scoring leader for Divison 1.

Along with that, I don't think the NCAA is pretending women's basketball didn't exist before 1982, they're just stating the NCAA didn't exist before 1982, which is factually correct. There's nothing wrong with saying this. There's lots of variables with any record. Everyone just needs to recognize this when evaluating the all-time greats in any sport.

At Monday, March 11, 2024 2:16:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I agree with your first statement, but--unfortunately--there are people who believe that Clark broke Maravich's record.

At Monday, March 11, 2024 2:41:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


There is not one Division I career scoring leader, just like there is not one Division I record for any of the various track and field events or swimming or any other sport that has separate competitions for men and women--and no one ever suggested otherwise until very recently, when someone decided to try to bring more attention to women's sports by pretending that a women's Division I record is comparable to a men's Division I record. Frankly, if there is going to be only one Division I record, then by default the record must belong to the players from the highest competition level; none of the women's Division I scoring leaders could start for a men's Division I team, much less set a men's Division I scoring record. Caitlin Clark is a wonderful player, but acknowledging her greatness does not require us to pretend that she could score 3000+ points versus Division I men.

If a WNBA player ever scores more career points than LeBron James, are we going to pretend that this WNBA player is the all-time leading scorer in professional basketball? If I am not mistaken, the average NBA player is six inches taller than the average WNBA player, and I believe that the height difference is about the same at the collegiate level. Even assuming that the women players have the same strength, speed, and agility as the men players, the height difference alone would be a decisive advantage for men.

Caitlin Clark would struggle to get her shot off playing against Division I men. I am not saying that she cannot compete against regular men; I am sure that she can outplay many, if not most, men--but we are talking about Division I basketball players, and there is a huge gap between Division I men and Division I women.

There is no comparison between points scored at the Division I men's level and points scored at the Division I women's level. I don't understand why so many people persist in saying things that are demonstrably false, nor do I understand why anyone would suggest that it is misogynistic to state obvious truths. I am not saying that women should not play sports or that women's sports are not great, or that women athletes are not great. I am saying that elite male athletes have demonstrable physical advantages compared to elite women athletes, and those demonstrable physical advantages result in higher level performance.

If people had not foolishly touted that Clark broke Maravich's record, then I would not be writing an article pointing out the obvious fact that Maravich would have run circles around Clark had they ever played against each other. How is it advancing women's sports to invite such comparisons?

I sure hope no one is going to be foolish enough to bring up Billie Jean King versus Bobby Riggs. King was in her prime when she won a match versus an over the hill Riggs, and people conveniently leave out the fact that King only played Riggs because Riggs had already won a match versus Margaret Court, then the number two ranked woman in the world. I don't recall King (or any other top woman) ever challenging Bjorn Borg or Jimmy Connors to a match.

Serena Williams admitted as much, telling David Letterman, "If I were to play Andy Murray, I would lose, 6-0, 6-0, in five to six minutes, maybe 10 minutes. The men are a lot faster, they serve harder, they hit harder...It's a completely different game."

To be clear, Serena Williams is one of the greatest athletes of all-time based on her domination of the women's game--but there is a good reason for the men's records and the women's records to be kept separately. Similarly, Caitlin Clark is a great athlete, but we should not be pretending that she is a greater scorer than Pete Maravich.

At Monday, March 11, 2024 8:59:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding "Gary Pomerantz interview in 2012"

Thanks for sharing this interview. When was it given?

At Monday, March 11, 2024 9:27:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


You're welcome!

I interviewed Gary Pomerantz on February 29, 2012.


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