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Maxine Moore column: Good will come from reports of women's basketball inequities

On April 1, 2021

BY MAXINE MOORE / VN STAFF WRITER

As a student-athlete that has been majorly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, I was genuinely excited for my fellow women’s basketball student-athletes to get a chance to go to the big dance.

I was even more exited for the numerous friends I have who were going to be a part of this special experience.

Soon after women’s basketball teams arrived in San Antonio and were directed to their practice facilities, disillusionment began to set in.

The practice courts were fine: standard AAU convention-center courts.

The “weight room,” however, was a different story.

Each team was given one set of dumbbells and yoga mats.

Because both tournaments were taking place in one “bubble” environment in an effort to eliminate the risk of contracting Covid-19, teams could not go outside of the bubble to use other facilities.

All teams were required to stay in their bubble until the end of the tournament or until eliminated.

Weightlifting is a huge part of being a successful student-athlete.

Not only does weightlifting allow us to grow and maintain our strength, it also helps us to prevent injury.

I was rather confused about how exactly one set of dumbbells and a yoga mat could maintain the strength of 14 or 15 young women.

What was most disappointing, though, was the night and day difference between the men’s weight room and the women’s weight room.

The men’s weight room was comprised of multiple sets of dumbbells of various weights, as well as numerous barbell racks, exercise balls, bands and more.

Professional basketball players of both the WNBA and NBA took to Twitter to express their disbelief.

Of course, these tweets spurred lots of controversial conversations.

Some people said that the women’s basketball community should “stop complaining” until they can bring in the same amount of revenue as the men do.

This attitude is troubling for a few reasons.

First, the NCAA is a nonprofit organization. Therefore, money should have nothing to do with it.

This is different for the NBA and WNBA, however.

Second, the fact that the men’s tournament is referred to as “March Madness” while the women’s tournament is simply the “women’s tournament” is saddening.

This is reflected in the disparity of yet another NCAA component that all student-athletes look forward to after winning their conference or being selected to compete in the big dance.

The “swag bags” that the men received were filled with “March Madness” goodies from body wash and deodorant, to hats, windbreakers and socks to books, blankets and pillows.

The bags the women received contained much less and were plainly labeled “Women’s Basketball” items.

As if things weren’t bad enough, even the meals provided in the men’s bubble were much better looking and tasting than the food in the women’s bubble.

Women’s basketball student-athletes took to social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok to document their dining experiences.

Finally, the NCAA responded and said that money was not a factor in these presenting issues, but space was.

That’s when women’s basketball student-athletes took to social media once more to confront the NCAA on this statement, which did not really make any sense.

There was plenty of space in the practice facilities to construct a more functional weight room.

Dick’s Sporting Goods was generous enough to donate weightlifting equipment to the women’s basketball bubble.

Student-athletes and coaches seemed pleased with the new equipment but were still upset and disturbed as they felt like an afterthought at the end of the day.

As someone who is a huge supporter of women’s basketball and is seeing firsthand how it continues to grow and evolve, I do believe it was hurtful to see the disparities between the tournaments.

On the other hand, I hope that this will be the last time something like this happens.

It was amazing to see how many influential men’s players stood up for what they genuinely believed was right.

To see women’s basketball gain more support and recognition from the men’s side is always something to celebrate.

This situation has also given coaches on both sides the inspiration to speak out on these differences, which I think will also help to end them.

Women’s basketball will continue to beat the odds no matter what.

Maxine Moore plays for the Titans and writes for The Varsity News.

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