The USWNT is no stranger to inequality fights, so it was no surprise to see some of the team’s biggest stars weighing in on the shocking inequality on display at the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments this week.
For those who have been hiding their heads in the sand, social media has been flooded this week by images highlighting the disparity in amenities provided to men’s and women’s basketball players at their respective NCAA tournaments. Both tournaments are being played in one location instead of spread across the country like usual to hopefully protect players, staff and media from Covid-19. The men’s tournament, played entirely in Indianapolis, has provided players with a massive weight room and plenty of free swag. The women’s tournament, played mostly in San Antonio but also nearby San Marcos and Austin, has provided players with a single set of dumbbells and some much less inspiring swag.
It’s really quite shocking (but not really) to see how much more money the NCAA put into the men’s basketball tournament compared to the women’s. How do you not provide anything bigger than a 30-pound dumbbell?
Let me put it on Twitter too cause this needs the attention pic.twitter.com/t0DWKL2YHR— Sedona Prince (@sedonaprince_) March 19, 2021
— TOGETHXR (@togethxr) March 18, 2021
3 weeks in a bubble and no access to DBs > 30’s until the sweet 16?
In a year defined by a fight for equality this is a chance to have a conversation and get better. pic.twitter.com/jFQVv1PlUt
— Ali Kershner, MS, CSCS (@alikershner) March 18, 2021
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It didn’t take long for members of the USWNT — most of whom played college soccer in the NCAA — to help amplify the voices of women’s basketball players. Players like Alex Morgan, Tierna Davidson and Jessica McDonald were quick to call attention to the issue and demand better from the NCAA. The USWNT, of course, has been involved in its own inequality fight with U.S. Soccer and for decades FIFA has treated women’s soccer as inferior.
Seeing more and more come out in the differences of men's tournament vs women's tournament is so so so infuriating. WHAT IS WRONG W YOU NCAA ADMIT FAULT (all of it) AND BE BETTER. Be much better.— Alex Morgan (@alexmorgan13) March 19, 2021
Alright, now I’m just mad https://t.co/k3tv1Iwcp5— Jessica McDonald (@J_Mac1422) March 19, 2021
South Carolina coach Dawn Staley, a former star player herself, probably summed up the situation best, and Megan Rapinoe helped spread her powerful message.
Wow. This is how you write a statement. https://t.co/xpHQoPNrj2— Megan Rapinoe (@mPinoe) March 20, 2021
As Staley pointed out, in a season that has been focused on equality, the NCAA has royally fucked up. There are too many issues at play here yet again, and it’s frustrating to see women’s sports again get the shaft. The NCAA is a non-profit organization, so it doesn’t matter if the men or women bring in more money, they should be treated equally.
This is all just indicative of a culture that still hasn’t figured out how to treat women’s sports equally to men’s. Earlier this week, a German coach was “punished” by being forced to coach women, as if women’s sports only exist as community service for men. All this comes on the heels of multiple transphobic sports laws popping up in more conservative states across the country.
. LOUDER!!! https://t.co/kf66IqJCyZ— Megan Rapinoe (@mPinoe) March 19, 2021
Rapinoe was particularly vocal, as she often is, even talking about it on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.
— Megan Rapinoe (@mPinoe) March 20, 2021
Of course, the folks who are usually quieter about social issues, like Carli Lloyd and Julie Ertz, were still quiet on social media, but that’s kind of expected now.
Hopefully, one day women’s sports will receive the equality they deserve (or better yet, more resources to make up for the decades of being treated as second class). Until then, women’s superstars like Morgan and Rapinoe will have to use their platforms to advocate for those getting screwed over by systemic sexism.
The NCAA women’s basketball tournament tips off on Sunday. If you haven’t filled out your bracket yet, I suggest you pick Texas A&M to win it all, not because I’m a homer who thinks the Aggies got screwed out of a No. 1 seed (OK maybe a little bit), but because they’re damn good and primed to win their second NCAA title exactly 10 years after their first.