What’s Considered Equal?
This year's March Madness tournament was like no other. For one, March Madness took place in a global pandemic this year. There were also many upsets in “perfect” brackets. For example, in the Ohio State vs. Oral Roberts game, a 15th seed beat a number two seed, making Oral Roberts the second team in history to do so. Another example was Oregon vs. VCU game where VCU could not play due to Covid cases- giving Oregon a free ride to the second round of the tournament.
This year’s March Madness tournament also dealt with sexism. Sexism in the March Madness tournament was first brought to our attention by an Oregon women’s basketball player, Sedona Prince. Sedona first posted a video on TikTok showing their weight room compared to the men’s. The women’s weight room originally only had a rack of dumbbells and at most, a dozen yoga mats. The men, on the other hand, had multiple racks of dumbbells, treadmills, yoga balls, yoga mats, cross trainers, exercise bikes, resistance machines, jump ropes, and so much more. The inequality of the two rooms got many celebrities and sports fans extremely upset. Celebrities like Steph Curry, Vanessa Bryant, Sabrina Ionescu, and others, reached out to NCAA, prompting them to fix this issue. In response, the NCAA apologized, and stated that the issue with the weight room was because of “limited space in the tournament bubble.” To which Sedona Prince reacted by posting yet again, another viral TikTok showing everyone the “limited space” they had in their weight room. Within the next 24 hours Dick’s Sporting Goods reached out to the women’s NCAA tournament to let them know they had several U-Haul trucks filled to the brim with equipment that the teams could use. The NCAA gladly accepted the materials allowing the women’s teams to get everything a proper weight room should have. This allowed many TikToks to come out thanking Dick’s Sporting Goods for their actions.
Another problem was with the “swag bags.” A swag bag is a bag full of well, swag. These bags contain products that every player receives as a free reward for making it to that year’s NCAA tournament. In the past, the contents of NCAA’s swag bags typically added up to a value of easily over a couple of hundred dollars, if not more. For the men’s 2021 swag bags, male athletes received a blanket, pairs of socks, a hoodie, stickers, a t-shirt, bags, puzzles, towels, facemasks, and pillows marked with the NCAA tournament logo.
They also received a bag full of healthcare products like deodorants, shampoo, conditioner, several different brands of wipes, and more. The women, on the other hand, received two powered refillable bottles, an umbrella, a towel, a pair of socks, two face masks, a scrunchie, a t-shirt, and a hat, all decorated in the NCAA tournament logo. Their bag of healthcare products was smaller, and contained fewer personal hygiene items, including one bottle of deodorant, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, and an individual bag of wipes. However, the problem with the two different swag bags was not something that was fully on the NCAA; the issue also had to do with the difference in budgets of men and women’s sports. In the NCAA, a certain percentage of both men's and women's yearly salaries go towards their swag bags. This means that even if both groups are given 15% of their total, the men are going to have a larger percentage than the women simply because of the fact that there are more people focused on men’s sports than on women.