Upon their arrival to the women’s NCAA Tournament in San Antonio, the top women’s college basketball players in the country saw amenities and accommodations that were grossly unequal compared to those offered to their male counterparts at the men’s tournament in Indianapolis.
The “weight room” for these Division I athletes consisted of a single stack of six pairs of weights and yoga mats piled on a folding table. The men’s side, by comparison, more closely resembled the floor of a regular gym, including racks and platforms. As images of the weight facilities went viral on social media, other disturbing tidbits slowly came to light. In contrast to the option-rich buffets served in the men’s bubble, the women were receiving small pre-packaged meals. The women’s teams were also receiving less reliable COVID-19 antigen tests, while the men’s teams were receiving the gold standard PCR tests. Even the women’s “swag bags” were less impressive, as they received a t-shirt and water bottle, while the men received backpacks, full outfits and more. Rather than facilitating full access to the media in a year when coverage has already been stifled by the pandemic, the NCAA further cut costs by opting not to staff the women’s tournament with any photographers for the first two rounds, but published thousands of photos of the opening games of the men’s tournament.