March Madness tips off with controversy

Men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments are clearly not viewed as equal events

Tanner Curtis, Sports Editor

After taking a year-long hiatus, one of the most exciting sporting events in the country is nearing what should be some exciting finales on Sunday and Monday with the men’s and women’s college basketball championship games.

March Madness has been in full swing the past two weeks for both the men’s and women’s college basketball. The return of these events was very exciting for the fans but even more so for the players, who didn’t get the opportunity to play last year when the country essentially shut down last March.

Due to COVID-19, the two tournaments are being run a little differently this year much like most other sporting events. One main difference is that the players don’t have to travel to different locations in between rounds as they have done in the past. The men have been in a bubble in Indiana, while the women are in Texas.

Because they are in a bubble, the NCAA has had to provide certain amenities such as food, training facilities, and hotel rooms. For the men, this was all provided. But for the women, well, what was provided instantly put the NCAA in hot water.

The first person to speak out about this was Oregon’s Sedona Prince, who posted a video on Tik Tok talking about how the weight room provided to the women was pretty much nothing. The video showed how they got a rack of dumbbells and some yoga mats.

Compare this with the full-scale gym provided to the men and the outrage becomes understandable.

Prince then went on to say that the women were told there was just not enough space to provide a full-scale weight room as she was showing a giant empty ballroom. This video went viral and currently has around 10.5 million views on Tik Tok alone. Once it started getting published on Twitter and Instagram and covered on the news, more people started to speak out.

Some of the biggest stars from the National Basketball Association, such as Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving, spoke about how the NCAA needed to do better. While they did get a lot of support from big names in the sports world, this also started the old debate of whether female athletes should be getting the same perks as the men because they don’t make as much money for the NCAA.

It is true that the men’s tournament is the third highest grossing sporting event in the world. While the women’s tournament has steadily increased its ratings and ticket sales over the past several years, the NCAA continues to say that they can’t put as much money into the tournament because it wouldn’t be self-sustaining or generate any revenue.

For most people that is hard to believe, especially since the NCAA is known for lying and being very stingy about money.

There is also the argument to be made about how it is nearly impossible for the women to generate revenue when money isn’t put into aspects of the sport such as marketing the game so more people will want to watch.

Eventually after all of the pushback and accusations of sexism, the NCAA gave the women in the Dallas bubble their very own weight room. While this was a huge win for the women, it is still ridiculous that there had to be this large of a controversy for an organization that is worth more than $1 billion to buy or even rent gym equipment and provide equal practice facilities. Sorry, but those costs didn’t put a dent in the revenue generated from college sports.

The problems may have been fixed this year, but if we have learned anything the NCAA won’t learn its lesson. We have to make sure that something like this doesn’t happen again because there will never be progress toward equality in the sporting world if athletes and fans don’t speak up about issues like this.