The end of March is enough to bring a tear to any sports fan’s eye as one of the most watched sporting events in the world comes to an end. March Madness is one of the great unifiers in terms of college sports and I was so sad when this tournament came to an end. Through this one tournament alone the National Collegiate Athletic Association makes about 850 million dollars in TV rights, making it the most profitable event that they put on all year. After the cancellation of the tournament last year due to COVID-19, fans, players and I’m sure the NCAA themself were anxious to see the games return this year. Sadly, I am not here to wax poetic about my love of NCAA basketball even though I am an avid March Madness fan. I want to talk about the lesser known side of the tournament; the women’s games that happen simultaneously with the men’s tournament. It has always been true that in the majority of cases, female athletics do not get the recognition that they deserve, but this problem came into even more attention during the 2021 NCAA tournament.
This year the men’s tournament was held in Indianapolis, Indi. in state of the art arenas (and importantly for this topic,) a brand new training facility. As usual, the fanfare around the men’s tournament is something that is seldom ever seen at any other college sporting event. The women’s tournament was held during the same time in San Antonio, Tex. They were met with a sparsely equipped single-room area to train, which was shockingly different from the football field sized training room that the men’s teams had been supplied with.
Many players, rightfully outraged, took to social media in order to catalog the difference between what they had seen of the men’s facility and their own. Outrage grew so much that the women’s players got not only a formal apology from the NCAA, but also a brand new training area. But this is not the only difference between the two tournaments, the men’s teams were also provided with different welcome bags with more expensive products than the women’s teams, more sensitive COVID-19 tests for testing throughout the tournament and of the “March Madness” trademark was used solely for the men’s games. These differences have now led to a formal investigation of the athletic association by civil rights lawyer, Roberta A. Kaplan.
This is sadly not a new phenomenon. Everywhere you turn, there is a form of discrimination against female athletes. Whether it is something apparent like this or something more on the sly like saying that female dominated sports like cheerleading are not really sports. There are no bounds to the horrible way that women athletes can be treated in our society and this is something that goes far behind just the March Madness tournament and one investigation. This is something that needs to be addressed on a larger scale; the fact that for just as much work and effort, women need to be treated the same as men.