Even though Title IX was signed into law fifty years ago, women in collegiate sports are still struggling with gender inequalities. The rest of the world needs to start valuing their contributions since they serve as role models for other women and girls worldwide. Many colleges’ strategies to fund and promote the more profitable sports teams, such as men’s football, harm the women who work just as hard but reap fewer rewards.
In the 2021 March Madness tournament, reports of unequal gym setups between the women’s and men’s teams drew uproar. First publicized on Instagram by a Stanford women’s coach, Ali Kershner, the men’s gym was expansive and populated with a large variety of weights and equipment. The women’s “gym” was simply a rack of dumbbells, none over 30 pounds. Not only were there notable differences in facilities, but also in food and merchandise as well. In other photos shared by players, there was a visible difference in the caliber and quantity of what was received by the women’s teams from the event organizers. Men received enormous swag bags and high quality food, while the women’s teams only received a few merchandise items and lesser quality food. Men’s March Madness creates a sports fever every year, with many people betting on the outcome. On the other hand, I rarely hear about the women’s side of things, possibly due to the suspicious lack of advertisements.
According to a 2022 gender inequality report by the NCAA, men’s D1 college teams receive twice as much funding as women’s teams at the same level. This is unacceptable. The lack of funding for women’s collegiate sports is an issue that needs to be solved.
I understand that men are usually stronger and faster than women, and might beat most counterpart teams at the same level, but that doesn’t mean that we should be putting all our money into men’s sports. Women’s sports are just as fun to watch, and many people certainly agree. For example, the 2021 Women’s College Softball World Series received over 300,000 more viewers than the Men’s College Baseball World Series.
People like women’s sports. So why are they so underfunded?
Many college softball coaches have voiced their frustrations about the disparities in the treatment of their teams versus men’s teams. A common issue they face is the condensation of their championship schedule into only a week, while the Men’s College Baseball World Series is played over a much longer twelve days. Because of the high volume of games in a short period of time, players’ bodies are placed under much higher stress. These unfair playing conditions can have a serious impact on the health and safety of women softball players. Additionally, coaches have concerns about the state of their facilities versus the men’s; some women’s stadiums have half the capacity of men’s stadiums. Also, many coaches fought for years to install basic amenities, like bathrooms, in women’s facilities. If necessities like bathrooms were neglected, I can’t help but wonder what else is lacking in other women’s facilities across the country.
This isn’t an old issue. These infuriating stories of inequality keep happening. Now that college football season is in full swing, I am constantly reminded of the yearly oversaturation of men’s college teams covered on primetime outlets. Entertainment companies should choose to air women’s sports as a vital part of their programs. If broadcasting companies put more focus on women’s sports, maybe colleges would spend more on those teams, and maybe those teams would get more recognition. Women aren’t given the value and importance that they deserve.
This is a long-echoed sentiment, but the gender gap in funding for sports is an essential and understated issue. I don’t think this is an issue of lack of available funds, but a purposeful choice to place one gender above another. However, we are making some progress. Past the collegiate level, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) finally received equal pay after a six-year fight. That may seem like only a few short years, but in reality, the disparity has existed behind the scenes since the creation of USWNT. Next, I think that we should turn our attention to female student-athletes, specifically in college, that deserve the same treatment as their male counterparts. I hope that someday in the future, women’s sports in both the college and professional scene are seen as equal.