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Literal March Madness: “Equality” in the NCAA

While I’m sure this wasn’t the March Madness anyone pictured, sitting on Manchester Plaza watching the Wake Forest Women’s Basketball team play Oklahoma State was something quite special. March Madness is the most exciting time during the college basketball season, where teams from all over the country compete to be national champions. To be completely honest, I was never a huge basketball fan growing up. Sure, I’ve seen my fair share of Celtics games, but college basketball was never really my thing. But, after actually coming to college and getting to watch the games in person (pre-COVID of course), I have come to learn that college basketball is electric. While the men’s basketball team had a disappointing season, not making the cut for March Madness, Wake Women’s basketball made it into the tournament as the 8th seed. Pretty awesome, right?

With this whole pandemic thing going on, the NCAA had to hold the tournament differently this year, which came with a few more challenges. For the first time ever, March Madness was held in the same geographical location, meaning that all of the Women’s teams are staying and playing in San Antonio, TX. Players and coaches were all COVID tested, given trackers to help players comply with social distancing, and seemingly everything they could need inside the NCAA bubble. However, coaches and players in San Antonio quickly realized that their March Madness experience was going to be quite different than the one in Indiana that men’s teams were having. After a picture of the “weight” room provided to the athletes in San Antonio went viral, the NCAA began to receive heat from college players, coaches, viewers, professional athletes, and more. People were disappointed by the drastic difference in equipment as the men’s teams were given multiple sets of full gym equipment and the women were given one set of dumbbells and some yoga mats. As more and more details surfaced, discrepancies between meals and merchandise were also found and called out. Check out Sedona Prince and other NCAA athletes who have been keeping up with the tournament on TikTok to see first hand what is going on at the tournament! While NCAA took these comments into consideration and made changes to the gym equipment and other accommodations for the players in San Antonio, there is still a question that has been left unanswered: why did it even happen in the first place?

As I’m sure many of you can attest to, being an athlete as a woman is challenging. I was a triseason athlete playing field hockey, ice hockey, and softball, yet the only people who showed up to the games were parents who cut the timeout of their schedules to make it. Yet, when I looked over to other fields, the men’s soccer or lacrosse game always had people in the stands cheering them on. And, while my experience is very small and irrelevant compared to the athletes who have experienced their whole lives, I can only imagine how much it, putting it frankly, sucks. 

And, while there is still so much more on this topic to discuss and highlight that can’t fit into a single article, this is a start. Calling out the inequalities where we see them and trying to make a change is the only way we can push our society to a better future. 

Hi! My name is Madeline Tallarico and I am from Boston MA. I am a student at Wake Forest University (go deacs!) and I plan on studying psychology with a minor in neuroscience and writing.
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