NCAA Basketball Tournament highlights inequality

Men had a bigger weight room, different swag bags than women’s tournament

By Grace Carlo, staff writer
Photo courtesy of @SINow on Twitter
With March comes the NCAA Tournament, but this year came with more controversy than years past due to differences in what the NCAA provided for the men’s and women’s players competing in the tournaments.

bring the country’s sports fanatics into one of their favorite times of the year: March Madness, the pinnacle of many college basketball programs’ successes. 

The men’s basketball tournament this year is taking place in Indiana, with games being played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, and a few other locations across the city.

The women’s tournament is in San Antonio, Texas playing primarily at the Alamodome.

On March 18, viral images and videos surfaced, revealing the numerous disparities between the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

The training facilities were smaller for the women’s teams, and the complimentary swag bags contained less merchandise for women’s teams. 

In addition, the women were being administered antigen COVID-19 tests, while the men had the more accurate PCR tests for testing during the tournament. 

Stanford University Sports Performance coach Ali Kershner shared images of the weight room offered to the men followed by an image of the single rack of weights that served as a weight room for the women’s teams.

“These women want and deserve to be given the same opportunities,” Kershner tweeted, tagging the NCAA’s official Twitter account.

The images went viral within hours and other players took action to come forward and post the many other disparities they have seen in the tournament thus far.

NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt released a statement on Friday, saying, “I apologize to the women’s student-athletes, coaches and committee for dropping the ball on the weight room issue in San Antonio. We’ll get it fixed as soon as possible.

A statement was then released by Lynn Holzman, NCAA Vice President of women’s basketball, after Gavitt’s statement broke the silence. Holzman noted that the insufficient weight room for the women’s tournament was going to be changed as the tournament progressed. 

“This is due to the limited space and the original plan was to expand the workout space available later in the tournament,” Holzman noted.

Oregon Ducks star player Sedona Prince has taken her frustration to TikTok. 

She filmed the room where women’s players from all 64 teams were expected to train using a small set of dumbbells and some thin yoga mats.

Price also filmed the small weight pyramid they were given, and then zoomed out to show the large open space filled with nothing but folding chairs, contradicting the NCAAs claim about too little space.

Many other prominent athletes used social media to speak up about the issue. Current WNBA stars Sue Bird, A’ja Wilson, Sabrina Ionescu and Natasha Cloud demanded answers to the sexism shown by the NCAA’s actions.

Male athletes have also spoken up on the issue. Portland Trail Blazers star CJ McCollum said the NCAA has “gotta do better.” 

“Come on now!” Steph Curry, a three-time NBA Champion, said regarding the situation.

Swag bags given to the men’s teams included more amenities, including socks, shirts, hats, flags and assorted sponsor goods like shampoo, body wash and other cleansers.

Tweets surfaced with photos of the women’s and men’s swag bag items side by side, showing the disparity among the two different tournaments.

Additionally, only 64 women’s teams are participating in the tournament compared to the 68 men’s teams, a small but noticeable drop from the  68 that both tournaments begin with typically. 

“What bothers me is that no one on the NCAA’s leadership team even noticed,” Muffet McGraw, former Notre Dame basketball coach said about the discrepancies.

Since the issues were brought to the public’s attention, the NCAA has fixed the issue and given the women competing in the tournament more appropriately-sized weight rooms for them to train.