Twice this year, the NCAA has come under fire for its inability to treat women’s sports with the respect and resources athletes deserve.
In March, the NCAA faced extreme scrutiny for its treatment of women’s basketball during March Madness. Compared to the men’s tournament, the women’s tournament was in many ways lackluster. From weight rooms, to food, to swag bags and media coverage, the women were treated differently.
These incidents increased the visibility of gender inequities within college athletics. Many hoped that the NCAA would respond and work towards creating a more equal environment for their female athletes.
Instead, they failed. Again.
In early April, reports began circulating of subpar facilities at the NCAA women’s volleyball tournament.
Athletes arrived at the tournament and were met with an eight court practice facility and sport courts installed on top of concrete, which create a high risk for injury. Additionally, the first three rounds of the tournament would take place within a convention hall. The first two rounds would go on without commentary. With the event already cut from the usual 64 teams to 48, many question how the NCAA chose to make these decisions.
[bf_image id="q7jvwo-b8lmnk-c30e41"] NCAA responded on Instagram saying, “As in previous years, there is no requirement to produce coverage of or live commentary in the first or second rounds of the Division 1 Women’s Volleyball Championship - this year in partnership with the NCAA, ESPN committed to cover every match either livestream or broadcast. Due to pandemic-related restrictions and the format this year, there are additional challenges, including four streams going out at the same time from one location. Announcers will call matches remotely for the Regional Semifinals and Regional Finals, then will be on-site for the National Semifinals and Championship match.”
They continue by saying, “To address concerns about the practice court flooring in the convention center, felt underlayment is applied to each practice court to apply cushioning and prevent court movement. Taraflex floor will be laid over felt underlayment and sport court floor for the first three rounds of competition.”
Regardless of the circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that the NCAA undervalues their female athletes. This needs to change.