Last month in the midst of the annual hype that goes with the NCAA College Basketball March Madness, the stark difference between how male and female college athletes are treated was highlighted. Sedona Prince, a player on the University of Oregon Ducks, tweeted pictures and a video showing practice areas for the women’s and men’s teams reaching the round of sixteen. While the men had a spacious area to allow for social distancing, outfitted with a full range of weights and other equipment, the women had a single rack of weights only with weights up to 30 pounds. The error was corrected the next day by the NCAA after the video went viral, with an apology for the embarrassing event. However, at the center of the mistake was a lack of appreciation for the dedication and hard work that women put into college sports, which is equal to male players. The same amount of preparation, practice, and conditioning that male college athletes do is done by female athletes. Therefore, the resources and facilities for these athletes should also be the same. Amy Huchthausen, Commissioner of the America East Conference said “This isn’t just about dumbbells or swag bags. This is about our fundamental expectations for fairness and equity and ensuring the outcomes of our decisions can meet those standards to deliver a quality experience for our student athletes.”
Outside of basic fairness, it’s the law. Under Title IX (part of the US Education Amendment of 1972), colleges that receive federal funding can’t exclude or discriminate based on gender in giving students equal opportunities to school-related programs and activities. College sports are considered part of those programs. Title IX does not require that everything for both men and women be the same, but it does require some fairness in opportunities and resources. Despite these laws, repeated infractions such as the equipment room at March Madness continue to happen. It is important for athletes and everyone continue to speak out against unfair treatment of female athletes. If we all speak out, like Sedona Prince, we can hopefully force colleges to recognize the disparity in the treatment of female college athletes and make a change.
Elisha de Silva
Graphic: Jiah Lee