This year, March Madness looks a little different than usual. The NCAA has the players in “bubbles” to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The male players are stationed in Indianapolis, IN, while the female players are in San Antonio, TX. Although both the “bubbles” are being sponsored by the NCAA, there are stark differences between them.
These differences came to light on social media after comparison pictures of the male and female weight rooms were released. The photos were met with outrage after they went viral. In them, the men’s weight room is nearly as large as a full-size gym. On the other side of the spectrum, the women’s weight room consisted of a single weight rack with six pairs of weights and a few yoga mats.
Unfortunately, the weight rooms were not the only differences to be found between facilities. Evidence emerged that the food offered to the female players was lacking in comparison to the buffets provided for the men. The women were given prepackaged meals that did not compete with the variety offered to the men. This year’s tournament “swag bags” were also a point of contention, with the women’s bags being much less impressive than the men’s.
Additionally, the NCAA did not fund a photographer for the first two rounds of the women’s tournament, despite the fact that thousands of pictures were published of the men’s opening games. It was also found that the women were being given less reliable COVID-19 antigen tests while the men were receiving standard PCR tests.
After the public’s outcry, the NCAA released a statement where they explained that the state of the women’s weight room was due to a lack of space in the facility. This explanation was quickly proven to be false when Sedona Prince, a sophomore at the University of Oregon, posted a TikTok video that exposed the practice court and large adjoining room that hosted the singular rack.
Following Prince’s video and more public backlash, the NCAA upgraded the women’s weight room to match the same standards of the men’s.
These events clearly expose the ever-present sexism in our society. Men and women are still not seen as equal and the fight for equality is just as present now as it was during the suffrage movement. Even though the NCAA has apologized and sworn such events will never happen again at one of their tournaments, only time will tell of a true change in standards.
By Maggie Barnhill, Staff Writer