This week kicked off the NCAA Men’s Basketball “March Madness” Tournament — leading to buzzer-beaters, upset victories and busted brackets.
And it also showcased the wide discrepancies between men’s and women’s collegiate sports.
Sedona Prince, an Oregon basketball player who has nearly 700,000 followers on TikTok, posted a video that went viral that highlighted the massive differences between the women’s weight rooms at their tournament in Texas, and the men’s weight room setup in Indiana.
The women’s weight room was a rack of dumbbell weights and a couple yoga mats.
The men’s weight room boasts numerous, spread-out, lifting weight racks, benches and numerous other equipment.
In her video, she says that when pictures of the two weight rooms got released, the NCAA came out with a statement saying that it wasn’t money, but rather space, that was the problem.
But Prince showed viewers the space of their practice court, the “weight room” and all this extra space where equipment could be placed — thus, debunking the NCAA’s bogus claim.
She concludes the video by telling viewers that “If you aren’t upset about this problem, then you’re a part of it.”
Prince is exactly right. The NCAA’s trademarked and famous “March Madness” branding is kept only for the men’s tournament. The women’s “gift bag” from the NCAA had a bag, a hat and some water bottles; while the men received blankets, shirts, toiletries, puzzles, a hat and so much more.
“While I appreciate the outrage, the fact that there’s a huge disparity between men’s and women’s sports is hardly breaking news,” former Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw posted on Twitter.
The women’s tournament brings in around $35 million a year compared to the men’s $800 million, but the differences in revenue aren’t an excuse for the massive difference in tournament experience. How can women’s basketball — and other women’s sports — expect to grow when the NCAA treats it like a Junior Varsity sport? For a non-profit organization like the NCAA whose guise is to lift up every student-athlete, these differences should be fixed immediately.
And in fact, they were. Practically overnight, numerous companies stepped in and provided the women with a new and improved weight room — as they deserved.
It’s not just women’s basketball, either. The NCAA decided that they will limit the teams participating in the women’s volleyball tournament this year — despite the tournament all being held in one location, and the fact that the men’s basketball and football championships didn’t cut back the number of teams.
“Basketball didn’t cut back, why are we cutting back?” Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook asked reporters at a news conference this week. “Football didn’t cut back, why are we cutting back?”
The spotlight on inequities between men’s and women’s collegiate sports have never been brighter. With the NCAA under a lot of fire, now is the time for universities to step up and demand what’s right for all of their athletes.