November 30, 2022

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Stark contrast between women and men’s NCAA weight rooms

As teams settled into their San Antonio bubble life for the NCAA women’s basketball tournament that begins Sunday, personnel found themselves shocked by the lack of a legitimate weight room for players — especially compared with the elaborate men’s tournament weight room setup in Indianapolis.

Ali Kershner, the sports performance coach for No. 1 Stanford, posted a photo to her Instagram (@kershner.ali) of the men’s setup (which appears to have everything a team could want and spans the equivalent of a convention center ballroom) and the women’s (which looks like something you’d find at a hotel gym).

“Not usually one for this type of post but this deserves attention,” Kershner posted.

She then tagged the NCAA Instagram accounts and said, “This needs to be addressed. These women want and deserve to be given the same opportunities. Not only that — 3 weeks in a bubble and no access to dumbbells above 30s until the sweet 16? In a year defined by a fight for equality this is a chance to have a conversation and get better.”

When former Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu got wind of the disparity, she tweeted, “Thought this was a joke. WTF is this?!? To all the women playing in the @marchmadness tournament, keep grinding!”

Many others voiced their disapproval.

The NCAA did not refute Kershner’s comparison.

“We acknowledge that some of the amenities teams would typically have access to have not been as available inside the controlled environment,” NCAA vice president Lynn Holzman said. “In part, this is due to the limited space and the original plan was to expand the workout area once additional space was available later in the tournament. However, we want to be responsive to the needs of our participating teams, and we are actively working to enhance existing resources at practice courts, including additional weight training equipment.”

The men’s tournament hasn’t fielded any public complaints about the weight room, but it’s been an eventful start in Indianapolis, too.

Players spanning 15 teams launched a protest Wednesday under the hashtag #NotNCAAProperty with the hopes of getting the NCAA to change its rules regarding name, image and likeness.