Apr 30, 2021 | SPORTS | By Abigail Russell | Photo courtesy of The Catalyst Archives

In 1972, Title IX was established in the U.S., making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender with regard to “participation in and benefits of” any “education program or activity.” This legislation was and continues to be both far-reaching and impactful. But, as is often the case, more work needs to be done.

Today, nearly 50 years later, legislation surrounding sexual assault and harassment come to mind for many when they hear “title nine.” For others, girls and women in organized athletics is the first thought.

This year’s NCAA March Madness tournament was the scene of yet another disheartening example of the massive gap between men’s and women’s sports in this country: the gendered weight-room discrepancy.

In the early days of the tournament this year, Stanford University coach Ali Kershner posted a photo comparing the men’s and women’s weight rooms.

“These women want and deserve to be given the same opportunities,” Kershner wrote. “In a year defined by a fight for equality this is a chance to have a conversation and get better.”

This statement was followed by many more social media posts, perhaps most notably a Tik Tok posted by the University of Oregon’s Sedona Prince.

After showing videos of the two weight rooms and explaining the flaws in the NCAA’s statement about there “not being enough space,” Prince says, “if you aren’t upset about this problem, then you are a part of it.”

In the following days, more discrepancies between treatment of the sportsmen and sportswomen came to light. The University of Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma told reporters that the male players were being tested daily with PCR coronavirus tests while the women players were receiving antigen tests, which are reportedly less accurate.

The NCAA later confirmed that the two tournaments were in fact using different testing methods. Pictures and videos of the meals and ‘swag-bags’ received by players in the different tournaments were also released, exposing apparent lower quality food and merchandise for women’s teams.

NCAA President Mark Emmert released this statement in the wake of social media pushback: “This is not something that should have happened and, should we ever conduct a tournament like this again, will ever happen again.”

Lynn Holzman, the NCAA’s vice president of women’s basketball, admitted that “[the NCAA] fell short this year” in a press briefing.

She followed this up by offering a statement of personal relation and frustration.

“I’ve experienced when you don’t have something that’s the same,” said Holzman, a former college basketball player. “This is also why it hit such a nerve with me… there’s an accountability aspect as the conversation moves forward that is front of mind.”

The NCAA did correct their weight-room ‘mistake,’ re-vamping the women’s weight-room within hours of the news coming to light.

Former head coach for Notre Dame women’s basketball team articulated people’s disappointment with the NCAA.

The fact that “there’s a huge disparity between men’s and women’s sports is hardly breaking news,” she said. However, she went on to say, “the NCAA had an opportunity to highlight how sport can be a place where we don’t just talk about equality, we put it on display. To say they dropped the ball would be the understatement of the century.”

Leave a Reply