OPINION

Same game, different arenas

By Courtney Dunlop
Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer talks to her players during the second half of a college basketball game against Utah Valley in the first round of the women's NCAA tournament at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Sunday, March 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Women have long been overlooked in life and, in the arena of sports, it is no different. Men are naturally bigger, stronger, and faster than women, so when it comes to sports, it is understood that watching men play might be more entertaining. However, this does not mean that women should be afforded any less opportunities or infrastructure for them to be able to play the games that they love.  

The NCAA claims to be an organization that is dedicated to “safeguarding the well-being of student-athletes and equipping them with the skills to succeed on the playing field, in the classroom and throughout life.” However, it so often falls short in fulfilling this dedication equally to both the men and women that are a part of their organization. I believe that the NCAA has a real problem on its hands, as it has been unfairly treating female student-athletes for years while they provide male student-athletes with everything that they need to play and more.  

The most recent example of this is the now-viral bubbles that the NCAA set up for the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, both set in separate locations. The men’s bubble featured a full weight room with enough squat racks, dumbbells, and everything one would need to get a good workout before the biggest games of their careers. In contrast, pictures of the women’s weight room setup showed only a pile of yoga mats and a few dumbbells not even passing 30 pounds for teams to use. The NCAA issued a statement saying that it was space, not money, that was the reason for this difference, but the message was already heard loud and clear by the female student-athletes competing in the tournament.  

As longtime Stanford women’s coach Tara VanDerveer said in a statement to the press, “A lot of what we’ve seen this week is evidence of blatant sexism. 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”.  

This is only the most recent example in a long line of unequal treatment for female student-athletes that the NCAA has done little to try to correct. 

I am aware that the men’s NCAA tournament brings in a lot more money than the women’s tournament. In fact, the men’s tournament accounted for about 75% of the NCAA’s $1 billion in revenue for the 2016-2017 school year. However, this should not have any bearing on what is provided to male athletes, as opposed to female athletes. The women’s tournament is not only a profitable event as well, but is also growing each year.  

In 2018-19, women’s basketball produced $974 million, less than only football and men’s basketball. It achieved that mark with much less media coverage. If women’s basketball isn’t very far behind the two most popular sports in the NCAA, why does it receive so much less money?  

Overall, the large discrepancy in resources allotted the two tournaments was really disappointing to see, but it helped amplify the bigger issue of sexism that the NCAA continues to fail to address. 

Courtney Dunlop is a junior at Messiah University in Cumberland County where she majors in Accounting and plays on the women's soccer team.