Why Ted Lasso star Jason Sudeikis is Supporting American Womens Basketball

By Lucy Broadbent
on 18 April 2024

When Jason Sudeikis, co-writer and star of Ted Lasso, sneaked into the John Wooden Awards this week to make a presentation to Caitlin Clark, currently regarded as one of the greatest women’s basketball players of all time, it might have surprised a few, but not Ted Lasso fans.  Wooden’s name is referred to often in the Apple TV+ show, and the legendary basketball coach’s philosophy that success is not about winning, but being your best self is also a major theme.

Ted Lasso star Jason Sudeikis
Ted Lasso star Jason Sudeikis

“John Wooden’s ideas shaped me as a man, as a father, as an actor, as an artist, as a fake coach,” Sudeikis said on the stage while presenting a Player of the Year Award to Clark.  “They helped save me and inspire me. That is to say that this book and this man, through his words, though I never met him, coached me.  If you have a favorite who you never met, some people pick Maya Angelou, my number one pick is John Wooden.”

Besides breaking sports records, John Wooden became famous for challenging the idea of what defines success. “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best you are capable of becoming,” he is renowned for saying in 1948.  The John Wooden Awards are part of his legacy and his ideals of loyalty, industriousness, team spirit and integrity are still promoted more than fourteen years after his death by the organization he set up.

The United States is currently in the grip of Women’s Basketball fever. Just as women playing football captivated the world’s attention at last year’s Women’s World Cup breaking viewership records, last weekend’s NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship between Iowa and South Carolina also captured the hearts of audiences nationwide and shattered records in the USA, becoming the most-watched women’s college basketball game ever. 

That’s significant because the viewing figures not only eclipsed the men’s final, but also outpaced any NBA contest in the last five years. It is further evidence of the momentous shift towards the recognition and celebration of women’s sports.  After years of being overshadowed, the advancement towards gender equality in sports seems to have taken another step forward.

But the journey ahead remains long.  Caitlin Clark has become the biggest brightest star of Women’s Basketball.  Her appearances now fill stadiums and get top TV ratings, but her pay is pitiful compared to a man’s.  Her contract, recently signed with Indiana Fever will earn her $338,00 over four years.  In contrast, last year’s number one NBA draft pick secured $55 million for the same period.

Whether you do or don’t care about basketball, football, or even Ted Lasso, gender equality in pay matters.  The support of Jason Sudeikis, a known women’s basketball fan will help highlight the disparity, but it is more important than ever that John Wooden’s promotion of fair play and integrity be heeded.

Lucy Broadbent with Ted Lasso Book
Lucy Broadbent with Ted Lasso Book

Related News

More WLT News