CultureMonday 03.21.22

Women’s Basketball Makes History with 2022 March Madness

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It’s March Madness season! This year, The Recount’s Sari Soffer is welcoming the women’s Division I basketball players to join the fun – since it’s the first year the NCAA is allowing the women’s teams to use its coveted March Madness branding in the tournament. You read that right. Here’s how it happened: last year, women’s basketball players exposed some egregious disparities between how the women athletes were treated during their tournament versus the men – namely in the form of an inadequate weight room, meager food options, and second-rate COVID testing protocols. This led to public outrage and pressure on the NCAA, which admitted that it spent nearly $14M more on the men’s tournament in 2019 than the women’s (as it turns out, it ended up being nearly $35 million). A law firm was hired to conduct an external gender equity review of the NCAA, which revealed pervasive ways in which the organization prioritized its men’s tournament through internal structural representation, broadcast deals, financial incentives for the schools, and more. That review suggested the women be included in the NCAA’s March Madness branding, in addition to a number of other changes that we’ll see in the women’s tournament this year. Sari talks to women’s basketball expert and longtime journalist Sue Favor about what this means for the athletes. Plus, she examines how new policies allowing college athletes to get paid for their name, image, and likeness are proving that women make the big bucks if given the chance.

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