Girls play too: Inequality in women’s NCAA basketball tournament

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Lauren Guinn

The women’s tournament held in San Antonio sparked a lot of controversy after Oregon player Sedona Prince uploaded a tiktok showing the difference between the women’s tournament and the mens.

Lauren Guinn, Opinion Editor

March: the biggest month in college athletics and to some the most important month in all of sports. Most people relate this month to the men’s NCAA basketball tournament commonly referred to as march madness. But, right alongside it is the women’s tournament as well. 

This year the NCAA came under fire after the treatment of both the mens and womens tournament was clearly unequal. Starting with a viral Tiktok made by Oregon women’s basketball player Sedona Prince showing off their weight room in comparison to the mens. 

The women were given a small rack of weights and yoga mats while the men were given almost a full weight room decked out with full weight racks, benchs, and everything in between. 

Sophia Lindquist, a PV girls basketball varsity player, felt the difference between the two weight rooms were appalling. “When I saw the tiktok and the other videos showing the two rooms I was shocked,” she shared. “I know first hand that the girls don’t get the same treatment but I didn’t think they would be that different.”

Originally the NCAA claimed that the difference was due to a lack of space in the hotel where the women were held. The players were quick to respond with more videos showing off the abundance of extra room they were provided, proving the NCAA wrong. 

Players continued to show different disparities throughout other aspects of the tournament. Prince made daily videos showing the meals they were given in the original quarantine period and many watchers pointed out the difference in quality compared to the men as well. 

There was also an issue with “swag bags” given to the players from the NCAA. Both men and women were provided with various merchandise branded accordingly to each tournament. However, the quality and quantity of products gifted to the men was visibly greater than the women. 

Maleigha McCulley, a fan of both mens and womens college basketball, thinks these differences are unfair. “When watching the games you can’t tell a difference but, thankfully, these players spoke up about the behind the scenes differences,” she said. “It is vital for the NCAA to make sure that these tournaments are equal and fair like they promise to.”

After the endless backlash, the NCAA spoke up and acknowledged the differences between the two tournaments. They committed to fixing the issue and sent more weight-lifting equipment to the tournament and apologized for inconveniencing the women and their teams. 

McCulley thinks it felt like too little too late. “It was nice of the NCAA to fix the problem but it is a problem that shouldn’t exist in the first place,” she explained. “It shouldn’t take them this much backlash to realize that the girls needed to be given equal treatment.”

The NCAA holds these tournaments under the pretense that the men and women are given both equal treatment and opportunities. It is clear that many people think it is important for them to uphold this standard no matter the difference in popularity.