The greatest time of the year for basketball fans is March, when the best teams compete in the NCAA Tournament. Some of my favorite memories are watching the Kentucky Wildcats play in the final four and win championships. The NCAA men’s basketball players work hard and sacrifice so much for their schools and teams, and deserve all the recognition they get. But women basketball players work just as hard and deserve recognition which they’re not getting. And that is a problem.
This week, some of the female athletes posted pictures of their workout rooms at the NCAA Tournament in San Antonio. We get that this year is different. Usually the games are at different locations until the Final Four. Space and resources are limited. But when compared to the men’s workout rooms, this is unacceptable. The women had a single rack of weights and a few yoga mats. Come on! This isn’t a yoga class. This is the NCAA Tournament! The highest honor for college athletes.
After these pictures leaked, we also learned that the women received different (read: fewer) items in their swag bags, the food was different than the men’s, and the NCAA didn’t feel the need to get any photographers for the first rounds of the tournament. Even the twitter account for March Madness says it’s the destination for “all things Division I Men’s Basketball.”. Last time we checked, both men and women were a part of March Madness.
The NCAA President Mark Emmert said this was “inexcusable,” and it will be reviewed. Yes, it does need to be reviewed. And like he said, it should never happen again. But it shouldn’t have happened in the first place! Younger generations of women need to know that they’ll be respected if they play sports in the future, and that their hard work will pay off. Girls also need women to look up to. We’re not saying that they can’t admire Steph Curry, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, or whoever is the next greatest men’s basketball player (I’m definitely still going to watch men’s sports!) But there’s nothing wrong with looking up to Rhyne Howard, Caitlin Clark, or basically anyone from the UConn team.
We think the South Carolina women’s head basketball coach, Dawn Staley, did a great job of summing up our thoughts (and the South Carolina’s women’s team is amazing, by the way):
I couldn’t even find the Kentucky/Iowa basketball game on TV. The Kentucky women were better and more exciting than the men this year (by a LOT). The least, and I mean very least, the NCAA can do is make sure the games are on channels everyone can watch.
We’re proud of the men who have stood up and supported women and their tournament. But they shouldn’t have to. It’s 2021.