By Amanda Baxter
The NCAA is receiving backlash on gender inequality during March Madness. Women players specifically are unhappy with their facilities compared to the men.
March Madness began on Thursday, March 18 and will finish on Monday, April 5. The men’s bracket is being played in Indianapolis, while the women are playing their tournament in San Antonio. Typically, the schools would host games, but due to COVID-19, the games are all played in the same two stadiums to eliminate traveling.
Upon arrival at the facilities, the women went into their “weight room” which consisted of a single rack of weights that only went up to 30 pounds.
According to The Seattle Times, Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer, the coach in women’s basketball with the most wins in history, said “Women athletes and coaches are done waiting, not just for upgrades of a weight room, but for equity in every facet of life … With the obvious disparity between the women’s and men’s tournaments, the message that is being sent to our female athletes, and women across the world, is that you are not valued at the same level as your male counterparts.”
Sedona Prince is on the women’s basketball team at the University of Oregon. She posted a video that went viral on Tiktok exposing the NCAA from an insider’s perspective of how the women are being treated compared to the men. The video shows the women’s small rack of weights compared to the mens weight room.
“If you’re not upset with this problem, then you are a part of it,” said Prince.
According to the Seattle Times, The NCAA said the women didn’t have a better weight room because there wasn’t enough space at the hotel.
Prince’s viral TikTok then goes on to show the large amount of space that could be utilized for a full weightroom.
“This was never intended to be a weight room, but rather an exercise room to be used before practice,” said NCAA president, Mark Emmert to Seattle Times.
When the NCAA finally addressed the issue as being their own fault, NCAA senior vice president of Basketball, Dan Gavitt, spoke to Insider News in hopes of being forgiven.
“I apologize to the women’s student-athletes, coaches and committee for dropping the ball on the weight room issue in San Antonio, we’ll get it fixed as soon as possible,” said Gavitt.
In addition to issues with the weightroom, the women were also jipped when it came to their “swag bags”. These are gift bags that every player receives among arrivals which include anything from towels and clothing, to soap. As seen in photos surfacing on twitter, the men appear to have received more than half of what the women are given.
The food for the women was also incomparable to what the male players were receiving. Alan Bishop, Director of Sports Performance of Men’s Basketball at the University of Houston, posted a photo on twitter of a buffet style meal the men’s team received. The tweet said “Bubble Life” followed by an extravagant menu of food to choose from and photos of the meal. The tweet concludes with, “That ain’t bad!!!”.
On the other hand, the female players receive their meals in plastic containers with no options to choose from. In another Tiktok posted by Prince, (@sedonerrr) on Thursday, March 18, she is seen taste testing her small portion of food with her teammates who are repulsed and even refuse to eat the meals they are being served.
Texas A&M senior forward N’dea Jones is not surprised with the display of inequality, however, she is shocked that people are finally speaking up about it. “It’s been like that for years. It’s not something new. I think it’s worse now because we are in a bubble, and we can’t control a lot of the things that we normally would be able to control. We can’t leave. We have to use the amenities that they give us,” Jones said to USA Today.