The Overlooked Misogyny of March Madness

by Mia Vergel de Dios, Staff Writer

The month of March is one of the busiest months of the year, given the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, the start of Spring sports, Women’s History Month, and the crazy college basketball tournaments, continuously shocking bracket makers, sports betters, and everyday fans. However, the irony of Women’s history month being the same month as March Madness basketball is too bright to overlook. This is because of the fact that the Women’s side of the tournament has been treated unequally since its inception in 1982. Even the use of the title “March Madness” being an example of one of the things that the women’s side couldn’t use till recently.

Even though the inequity of the two genders have been going on for quite some time, it was not apparent to the public until the 2019 March Madness tournament, where these college athletes were put into a bubble due to COVID-19. There was no way of hiding the prominent inequality that the athletes faced. This includes the pre-packaged cold meals that were given to the women compared to the buffets and yogurt bars their counterparts had access to. Along with the “State-of-the-art” weight room that was created for the men, highly contrasting the single rack of dumbbells and few yoga mats the women used. Lastly, the most heartbreaking difference was the quality of COVID tests that both sides acquired. The men received the standard PCR tests yet the women were given the antigen COVID tests which are less accurate, showing that when it came down to it, the NCAA was more concerned with protecting the men than the women. Nevertheless, with the help of the women’s side coaching staff and athletes who used their platform to speak up, the women later gained access to the same weight room and gear the men had received long before.

Continuing on with the use of their platform, the Coaches Organization created a social media movement using the hashtags, #OurShiningMoment and #OurFairShot. The first hashtag throws a snide comment towards the men’s tournament since women do not experience the video montage, One Shining Moment at the end of their tournament. The second hashtag is more important, however since it is the initiative the Coaches Organization created to continue the conversation of inequality in college basketball through a website that explicitly displays the differences between the two sides with articles and social media.

Yet in spite of all the movements and promises, the women still lack the complete support that men have obtained since the very beginning. Even this year, during the official Women’s college basketball tournament, the games continue to be televised as the National Invitation Tournament (the consolation tournament for those who didn’t make the March Madness). A mistake that wouldn’t have been made if it were on the men’s side. As many of the women’s college coaches, players, and even fans have stated, the women’s program is nowhere near equal to the men’s tournament. But like every basketball game, with effort, communication, and teamwork, the solution could be made easier by going step by step instead of relying on the buzzer beater shot.