The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) recently came under scrutiny for viral photos and videos depicting the large difference of the men and women accommodations at the March Madness facilities.
The women were supposed to be appeased with the single dumbbell rack and yoga mats that were provided to them for training, while the men received an entire, massive training facility. It didn’t stop there: photos depicted a distinct difference between meals and gifts between the women and men, too.
In passing conversation, I’ve heard people express anger at this story and I’ve also heard people make excuses for the NCAA. ‘Well, more people watch the men’s tournament, so they wanted to make sure the guys were more prepared, since it makes more money,’ I’ve heard. Even if that was a motive for the drastically different facilities, how can we apply the same logic to the meals and welcome gifts? I think the real reason the NCAA did this is clear. They did not think people would care if women received less stuff than men, so they did not bother enough to make it equal.
People did care, though. Stephen Curry is amongst the group of celebrities that spoke out and showed support for the women. He quoted one of the viral videos on Twitter and wrote “wow-come on now! @marchmadness @NCAA yall trippin trippin.”
On March 22, 1972 the Equal Rights Amendment was passed by the U.S. Senate and sent to the states for ratification. Thirty out of 38 states ratified what would have been the 27th the amendment, until backlash against feminism clouded the support for the amendment. It failed to achieve approval from three-fourths of the states.
Had the amendment been passed, it would have provided the legal equality of sex. According to the definition by Encyclopedia Britannica, it was “designed mainly to invalidate many state and federal laws that discriminate against women; its central underlying principle was that sex should not determine the legal rights of men or women.”
But March 22, 1972 was 49 years ago. Times have changed. Surely there cannot be a real need for this amendment anymore, right?
Well, to this day (with the exception of the right to vote) the government does not have power to enforce and protect sexual equality. This is a part of the reason why women still have to fight for their rights in court, in salaries and other examples. This is also a part of the reason why organizations such as the NCAA can (try to) get away with inequality of their own.
Following the outrage, the NCAA released a statement and apology acknowledging the inequality and differences between the amenities. Originally, the statement said the difference was due to spacing issues. However, the video linked above debunked that showing there was ample space for a lifting facility, so the next statement focused more on apology.
“I apologize to the women’s basketball student-athletes, coaches and the women’s basketball committee for dropping the ball on the weight rooms in San Antonio,” said Lynn Holzman, the NCAA’s vice president of women’s basketball. She promised the NCAA was actively working on improving the situation. The NCAA has since upgraded the weight room for the women.
Is the NCAA sorry, or are they just sorry they got caught? I’ll leave that up to you to decide, readers. There is one thing for certain though, it’s a disappointment that in 2021, photos and videos have to go viral in order for change to be made. We are past the point of making these kinds of mistakes. Equality should come naturally. It’s especially disappointing this happened during the month of women’s history. To the NCAA and other organizations that don’t proactively support gender equality: be better.