Is the NCAA purposefully mistreating women’s basketball teams?
As March Madness kicks off this week, the National College Athletics Association (NCAA) may have a day of reckoning when it comes to reported disparities between how men’s and women’s college basketball teams are treated.
No sooner than the teams touched down in Indianapolis, IN, and San Antonio, TX, where they’re slated to play in an eight-round tournament for the championship, did athletes tweet their observations of the stark differences between accommodations for the men’s basketball teams vs. the women’s. Let’s dive in.
@ncaawbb @ncaa this needs to be addressed. These women want and deserve to be given the same opportunities.
3 weeks in a bubble and no access to DBs > 30’s until the sweet 16?
In a year defined by a fight for equality this is a chance to have a conversation and get better. pic.twitter.com/jFQVv1PlUt
— Ali Kershner, MS, CSCS (@alikershner) March 18, 2021
Double standard equipment
First on the list of noticeable differences tweeted the difference in space and gym equipment provided to the NCAA women’s basketball teams vs. the men’s. On the left, a women’s workbench is pictured with some small dumbbells and towels. On the right, a spacious workout gym with multiple colorful benches.
Per Chantal Jennings, “Women’s teams get six sets of dumbbells, yoga mats, and a single stationary bike until the Sweet 16.” For those of you who don’t follow basketball, the Sweet 16 are the last sixteen teams standing in the tournament. So do the women’s basketball teams have to share the equipment between themselves while the men’s teams get what looks like their own Planet Fitness?
NCAA WBB players deserve better🤷🏼♀️ #fyp #marchmadness #ncaa #wbb
♬ original sound – Syd
It appears the answer is yes because an athlete on TikTok gave us more of an explanation. Sydney Parrish, a women’s basketball player from Oregon, broke down the images circulating Twitter, including ones detailing different food & swag. “Female athletes deserve much better than this.”
Add this to the list… pic.twitter.com/jt8X7ZqZJP
— Michelle Carlson-Neveling (@neveling245) March 19, 2021
Different food & swag bags
Then, tweets about the food came out. Women sent in pictures of small salads and what looked like school lunches in small trays. Meanwhile, it appeared the men’s basketball team got more nourishment in the form of an entire buffet!
When a picture of the different swag bags came out, Twitter went into a frenzy. The NCAA women’s basketball teams appeared to receive significantly less swag than the men. Men got multiple T-shirts, posters, shampoos, hygiene products, and tons of other goodies. Women got a towel, T-shirt, a water bottle, and as one Twitter user pointed out: a lonely tampon or maxi-pad.
From what I have been shown it appears the swag bags that the Men receive from the @NCAA are much more substantial than the Women as well. @ncaawbb @marchmadness. C'mon NCAA do better. Be better! pic.twitter.com/tDRjI9e5UJ
— Dan Henry (@danhenry3) March 18, 2021
Although some claimed it was a money issue – it’s universally acknowledged that even in 2021, men’s sports get more attention & funding than most women’s sports, including basketball – that might not be the case.
One Twitter user, Heat Miser, claimed to have inside information that gave the Twittersphere more of a lowdown: “I have worked with these corps. The stuff is donated. It is pennies to Procter & Gamble and Unilever. You get what you ask for. Whoever was procuring the women’s swag failed. Feel sorry for women & nonplayers in Indy, buncha dudes in a bubble smelling like Axe.”
Yes, they said there would be more options, though they didn't offer many specifics — I asked about food + the swag bags and here is the full response pic.twitter.com/DpxQjzabAi
— Emma Baccellieri (@emmabaccellieri) March 19, 2021
NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt, who oversees the men’s & women’s basketball teams responded to the criticisms: “I apologize to the 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”, adding he was working on getting the issue fixed right away.
NCAA vice president of women’s basketball Lynn Holzman also added they “fell short this year in what we were doing to prepare” and they “acknowledge that”.
However, their full response seemed lacking in specifics in how they planned on doing that. Rather, they told Sports Illustrated journalist Emma Baccellieri they put together the “swag bags” side by side and explained how basketball teams had the option of bringing in outside food even with COVID-19 restrictions.
I love this generation of college basketball players because the fearlessness they have to speak up about injustices is something I didn’t have in college. The “grateful & happy to be here” women’s athlete is a thing of the past. I’m celebrating that fact today! Proud of y’all!
— Layshia Clarendon (@Layshiac) March 19, 2021
Meanwhile, former NCAA basketball players, both men’s & women’s, came out to praise current women’s college basketball players for speaking up. They were also joined by professional basketball players who expressed their outrage at the reported disparities.
Layshia Clarendon, VP of the WNBPA (Women’s National Basketball Player’s Association), praised the women’s basketball teams who are standing up: “I love this generation of college basketball players because the fearlessness they have to speak up about injustices is something I didn’t have in college. The ‘grateful & happy to be here’ women’s athlete is a thing of the past. I’m celebrating that fact today! Proud of y’all!”
Other controversies surrounding NCAA and their teams, including sponsorships and whether athletes should be paid. What are your thoughts on these? Do you think the NCAA will make amenities for their men’s & women’s basketball teams more equitable? Let us know in the comments!