Peyton Lewis ‘23, Feature Editor
The month of March marked the beginning of one of the most popular sporting events in the country: March Madness. This year, the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) has been the center of public criticism for their differing treatment of the men’s basketball players and the women’s players. This has sparked a debate on the treatment of female athletes in general.
When photos began circulating online of the drastic difference between the women’s weight room and the men’s weight room, people were understandably frustrated. One player, University of Oregon student, Sedona Prince, posted a video to social media of their weight room which only contained around six pairs of dumbbells. The equipment provided for the female players is heavily lacking compared to the vast amount of equipment provided for the male players. In her video, Prince addressed the viewers saying, “If you aren’t upset about this problem, then you are a part of it.” The NCAA claimed the reason behind these differences was simply lack of space. But Prince’s video also debunked this statement by showing the large amounts of empty space their weight room had.
There is a long history of differences in the treatment of female athletes and male athletes; however, it is unacceptable that such treatment is still happening in the year 2021, and it is appalling coming from one of the largest sporting events of the year.
After harsh criticism, the NCAA provided the women with a new upgraded weight room overnight. After the weight room was upgraded, NCAA President Mark Emmert said in an interview, “This is not something that should have happened and, should we ever conduct a tournament like this again, will ever happen again.”
But why did it happen in the first place? The NCAA suddenly found the funding to provide the female players with adequate equipment overnight, but only after online criticism. It should not take being called out on the internet to treat women fairly; it should have been done from the beginning.
To make matters worse, the women’s weight rooms are not the only things that were lacking. According to NBC, “In contrast to the option-rich buffets served in the men’s bubble, the women were receiving small pre-packaged meals.” NBC also wrote that the women were even receiving less reliable COVID testing compared to their male counterparts. If there is one thing that should be 100 percent equal between the men and women, it is COVID-19 testing. Both groups are fortunate enough to be playing in the midst of the pandemic, so quality COVID-19 testing is vital.
Millions of viewers tune into the March Madness basketball games yearly. It is unacceptable that the NCAA has treated the female and male players so differently. However, this sexism is also not surprising considering the long history of poor treatment of female athletes in the world of sports. Equality in sports may have come a long way, but there is still far to go before all aspects of the male and female sports worlds are truly equitable.