This week, the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) has faced criticism after basketball player Sedona Prince posted a video on social media showing the significant disparities between the men’s and women’s weight rooms at their Division I basketball tournaments.
Prince said, “so for the NCAA March Madness, the biggest tournament for college basketball for women, this is our weight room,” and pointed to a singular stack of low-weight dumbbells. Then, she showed the men’s weight room, which was massive and had several kinds of equipment.
“If you aren’t upset about this problem, then you’re a part of it,” Prince said in the video.
Lynn Holzman, NCAA Vice President for women’s basketball, said in her original statement that the reason for the difference in equipment was “limited space”, and that the women’s weight room would be expanded later in the tournament when more space was available. In her later statement, she said she has spoken to staff members and team coaches about how to readjust space in San Antonio to provide more equitable training opportunities.
Difference in equipment and space to train is not the only disparity that women athletes have faced. Athletes have also raised questions about differences in food options available, COVID-19 testing, and “swag bags” of giveaways to players. For instance, one women’s coach reported that his women’s team players were receiving rapid antigen testing while the male players were receiving standard PCR tests, a more accurate test.
The NCAA will make over $850 million in television rights from the men’s tournament this year, so providing equal amenities for all players should not be a financial issue.
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer called the disparity “evidence of blatant sexism” and said she felt “betrayed by the NCAA.”
“Women athletes and coaches are done waiting, not just for upgrades of a weight room, but for equity in every facet of life,” she said in a statement Saturday night. “Seeing men’s health valued at a higher level than that of women, as evidenced by different testing protocols at both tournaments, is disheartening. This cannot continue to be business as usual. There are necessary changes that need to be made.”
Sources: Al Jazeera 3/20/21; ESPN 3/19/21; New York Times 3/19/21; ESPN 3/20/21