Inequalities within March Madness

Mary Clare Bean

As many of you know, the NCAA March Madness Tournaments are underway. All the players competing were excited, but the women’s spirits quickly declined. 

All of the women’s teams walked in their designated practice gym and weight room in San Antonio, Texas and were given a set of dumbbells that seemed to only be about 25 lbs and some yoga mats to share. They came across a video of the men’s weight room in Indianapolis, Indiana stacked with equipment, including an enormous amount of dumbbells, racks, weight plates, etc. The female athletes responded by explaining the situation and why they thought it was unfair on social media. As more attention was brought to the situation via social media, thanks to players like Sedona Prince, a University of Oregon women’s basketball player, the NCAA came out with a statement saying the difference in space availability was the main reason the weight rooms were not nearly the same at all. Not due to the difference in what money they bring in from previous games, despite what many assumed. To contradict that point, though, Prince came out with another TikTok video showing a 360 degree view of their practice gym and the ample space behind it, which could very well hold more than enough equipment needed. The NCAA finally provided the women with equipment that was deserved after players and fans on social media called them out.

The issue I have with this whole debacle is that it should not have been an issue in the first place. The NCAA Title IX violation states that the equal treatment of female and male student-athletes regarding equipment and supplies is required, as well as scheduling games and practice times, travel and touring, locker rooms and practice and competitive facilities, etc. If they were obviously able to provide the women with the equipment after this fact, then they should have been able to provide it from the very beginning. Yes, you can use the revenue reasoning, but that still does not justify the vast difference in weight rooms. Just because a team is bringing in more money does not mean they should have a much better practice facility. All teams work hard, so all teams deserve to have equal  equipment to do that.

You could also blame the NCAA and the person in charge of the women’s tournament for being sexist, but we do not truly know their reasoning behind just giving them the dumbbells, which could have been because of the money issue again. However, there is absolutely no reason why the women should have just been provided with the dumbbells. What good are those going to do in the biggest tournament for the Division 1 female athletes? These athletes, and every athlete for that matter, should have the opportunity to have nice things to better prepare themselves, especially for the biggest tournament they go to.

It is frustrating to see female athletes still trying to gain respect, even in 2021 and considering the year we had in 2020, from anyone other than fellow female athletes. This issue should not have happened and hopefully the NCAA will learn from their mistakes in the following years. As a female athlete myself, it is hard to see and live through nearly the same obstacles, even at my age. Obstacles like not getting enough recognition for females in my sport. We are left behind in the dust, because why watch girls soccer when there’s an option to watch the boys play instead? 

Although I have not faced anything as immense as the women in the NCAA tournament, obstacles like the one I mentioned above happen all the time. These are obstacles that none of us should go through in the first place.