March Madness is a tournament held every year by the NCAA where the best college basketball teams compete for the championship. However, the NCAA has recently been under fire for the significant discrepancies between the men’s and women’s tournaments. This controversy caused an uproar in the world of sports which has led many college and professional basketball players to speak up on the issue.
On Friday February 19th, University of Oregon star, Sedona Prince, arrived at the 2020 March Madness practice facility, feeling hopeful, excited, and eager to play the game she was passionate about. However, as Prince entered the same practice facility, she quickly realized the disparity over the men’s and women’s weight rooms and decided to post to her TikTok with the purpose to call attention towards this issue. While the men’s weight rooms included several bench press stations, multiple weights for them to train with, and an endless amount of high tech workout equipment, Prince shows the women’s weight rooms, which included just six sets of dumbbells and several yoga mats.
Prior to the women’s basketball teams’ arrivals, the teams received a “swag bag” with all of the pre game essentials they could think of, including special clothing, deodorant, water bottles, and other amenities. However, the men’s teams received significantly more free prouducts in their bags than the women did. Even the puzzle that the men received had more pieces than the one that the women’s teams were given.
As the dissimilarities became more increasingly obvious, Prince’s TikTok continued to gain traction from popular sports outlets such as ESPN, Fox, and more. Additionally, many athletes used their platform to speak up against the NCAA’s blatant sexism including former WNBA first pick Sabrina Ionescu and Golden State Warriors star, Steph Curry. After days of one controversy after another, it was released that the women’s NCAA teams had received a renovated weight room, but this is just the start for fighting gender inequality in sports.
Title IX, a law which applies to all educational institutions clearly states that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity recieving Federal financial assistance.”
This law is clearly displayed on the NCAA website for all fans to see, however, it is evident that Title XI was not taken into consideration in the 2021 March Madness tournament. It is possible that the NCAA could face legal punishment for violating this law. Prince’s TikTok has received almost ten million views, and many comments supporting female athletes and their fight for equality in the world of sports.
On March 28th, The University of Oregon was eliminated from March Madness by University of Southern California. Sedona Prince has since stated to her followers, “I’ve been getting tagged in a lot of TikToks saying now that we’ve lost they’re gonna stop watching. I just wanted to say, guys, please don’t stop watching women’s basketball. All the advocacy that my team did, if you stop watching, it’s all reversed and none of it matters.”
In the future, it is essential that the NCAA continues to monitor issues of sexism and inequality in the league. Although they did redo the women’s initial weight room, they must continue to show they understand why what they did was wrong and own up to their actions as an organization many people admire.