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NCAA Time to Put Women On the Same Platform as Men!

By Ron Signore

Women and men should have equal rights. They should have equal opportunity; they should have equal pay. Where there should not be a line, in reality, this week we saw the devil in the details as the NCAA Men’s and Women’s tournaments kicked off in their respected bubbles.

Oregon Women’s Basketball Team player Sedona Prince went viral this past week for posting a video showing the differences between the facilities and amenities for the Men’s tournament located in Indianapolis and the Women’s tournament located in San Antonio. She points out certain very obvious luxuries presented to the men that show what can only be described as favoritism by those who viewed the video.

The workout facilities were state of the art for the men, showing multiple weight stations and multiple different conditioning stations that would allow for multiple teams to work out at max capacity to the area. This is compared to the one set of dumbbells and yoga mats available to the women in San Antonio.

Food was demonstrated as a smorgasbord-style buffet line with many options provided to the men. The women had seen basic pre-packaged carton meals containing limited options. And SWAG provided to the men rang with vibes of congratulations and celebration, where the women saw some extremely basic apparel in significantly less quantity.

From the surface, we all can see the obvious differences between what luxuries the men’s programs received compared to the basic representation of amenities to the women. It begs the question that all athletes of all genders are being treated equally?

First, I think it is important to point out the simple notion that the NCAA has never really cared for the student athlete. Maybe that is a bit harsh, but they are an organization more worried about governing and controlling than providing basic rights to it’s participants. Throw in the obvious differences that dictate the regulations around Title IX in fairness to male and female athletes alike, and we already see the monopolistic governing organization that likes to pull the strings…these…. Fugazzi pezzonovante.

This is an interesting, and guaranteed unpopular, look at this matter though. Like all big organizations, everything means less than money. In this case, the details may be the dictation of what is correlated as fair. Investigating everything, the easiest path to answers is to just follow the money. In this case, the two largest revenue generators for collegiate athletics are football and men’s basketball. The differences of gross gain are somewhat exponential than that of most women’s sports, let alone basketball.

The equality can be dictated simply by the concepts here in many eyes. The men and women were both provided with workout facilities, food, and swag. The quality can certainly be debated but let’s look at this as a business for a second. Every business has a budget that is corroborated with a profit and loss ledger. Perception wise, if the division of the men’s basketball raises $100M per year, and after all operations expenses, they hypothetically budget 1% for the amenities for players around tournament time, that allows for $1M towards these areas of the tournament. Where the women’s program may raise $25M per year and apples to apples spends 1%, that allows for $250K towards these expenses at tournament time.

On the surface, the people want to believe there is a distinct slight because the NCAA favors the male athletes over the women, and the thought that the NCAA financials are all formed from one big pool of overarching budgets. While it is clear the men are getting more luxuries in these concepts that have been noted, it is correlated to the finances available to provide. I do hold blame for the NCAA for their treatment of all athletes in general. However, in this situation, their excuse to differential providing comes from an avenue that goes beyond the money earned by each division, it goes to a social problem.

These revenues are generated this way because of one key concept: public interest. The truth is the career path in a professional basketball career is greater in the NBA than the WNBA. The general population easily sees the idols of the NBA and the riches earned throughout from demand of things like ticket sales, television revenue and apparel. That is deeply translated to the lower levels of each sport. Youth sports start off as coed because in stereotypical fashion, the interest of females to be athletes is less. It has gotten better, but again, that equation is simply lopsided in relation. While the WNBA and NCAA Women’s Basketball are by far the most popular and revenue driven female sports here in the United States, they pale in comparison to their male led factions.

Sedona raises a point that if one does not see the problem, they are part of it. The problem is the speculation that the problem is just directed towards the NCAA. People on social media, or even myself want to point out the obvious differences on the surface, few peels back the onion to even understand the business portion of revenue generation. I am guessing even less look at this sociologically. It starts with each parent. Early exposure and interest generating activities for females would create more drive towards quantity equality. Quantity equality would drive fiercer competition and generate more excitement. More excitement gauges more viewership in interest, which again, follow the money. Some from an activist perspective do not want to turn the reflection on themselves to this key problem in female athletics. While fighting gender-based stereotypes, in many cases, they could not care less about the sport or the reality of why. They just want to point out that they have less by perception.

Change the fight in this instance. Start holding youth participation in athletics accountable to the youth organizations and generate the awareness to parents of younger children. It will take time to change the future, especially from the present. We need to aim farther back towards the potential beginning of the journey, not as close to the finish line as we are striking at it.
The best bosses say to come to them with solutions to problems, not problems to try and find a solution.

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