As the women’s NCAA college basketball tournament in San Antonio began, players note the gender inequality present.
Sedona Prince, player on the University of Oregon’s basketball team, posted a video on social media expressing her concerns with the inequality women athletes face in college basketball. In the video she showed footage of the men’s and women’s weight room, comparing the women’s, which consists of a single rack of weights and yoga mats in a small room, to the men’s room, which resembled a newly renovated Lifetime Fitness.
As of March 23rd, Prince’s video gained 8.7 million views on Tik Tok and 17 million views on Twitter. When Prince called out the NCAA for gender inequality, people rallied around her, sharing their support on social media.
Responding to Prince’s video, tennis legend and trailblazer, Billie Jean King, tweeted, “Equal time, equal access, equal facilities, equal treatment. The NCAA must do better.”
On Instagram, NBA icon, Kyrie Irving, said, “We can’t tolerate this! They deserve more!”
Paige Bueckers, UConn freshman, on an AP Twitter Chat said, “It’s more of a principle thing. It’s not just a weight room that’s a problem. It’s the inequalities and the better stuff the men get.”
In her viral video, Prince went on to explain that the NCAA justified the issue by stating that there was not enough space, but Prince shows that there was plenty of extra space available.
The senior vice president of basketball for the NCAA, Dan Gavitt, took responsibility for the issue. He said, “I apologize to women’s basketball student-athletes, to the coaches, Women’s Basketball Committee for dropping the ball, frankly, on the weight room issue in San Antonio.”
The vice president of NCAA’s women basketball, Lynn Holzman, responded to the controversy stating, “We fell short this year in what we’ve been doing to prepare in the last 60 days for 64 teams to be here in San Antonio, and we acknowledge that.” She went on to say that the NCAA commits to righting its wrong and are working to fix the issue.
The NCAA followed through. A couple of days after her video went viral, Prince posted another video displaying the new weight room, fully stocked with dumbbells, equipment, and resistance bands.
Prince attributed the new weight room to the power of social media, which raised awareness about gender inequity in basketball. She thanked her viewers for advocating and fighting for equal opportunity. She also showed gratitude towards the NCAA for correcting their wrong.
Unfortunately, the inequality does not end with the weight rooms. Women also received inadequate gift bags when compared to the men’s.
The women’s gift bags are significantly smaller than the men’s bags. While the men received many luxuries, the women only received a scrunchie, two Powerade water bottles, and a T- shirt among other items. People even pointed out that the men received a 500-piece puzzle in their gift bag while the women received a 150-piece puzzle.
Additionally, there is controversy over the name of the tournament. According to ESPN: “There is the debate over using the phrase ‘March Madness.’ Many women’s basketball leaders asked why that term has been used exclusively for the men’s tournament. Men’s courts use the March Madness logo, while the women’s simply say, ‘NCAA Women’s Basketball.’”
The way that the men’s tournament is marketed seems that it is the only tournament going on in March and does not give equal attention to the women’s tournament.
Due to the gender inequality present in the NCAA tournaments, a new organization called “Our Fair Shot” was created to end inequity.
The Our Fair Shot website states, “The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association is calling for change – not only from the NCAA, but from its governing board of university leaders and others in academia involved in college sports. Let’s seize this moment and together elevate women’s basketball to the next level.”