Sports must invest in its female athletes

female athlete looking at weights

When women’s sports don’t receive the same resources and funding as their male counterparts, they’re set up to fail. The vast difference in men’s and women’s weight rooms in the NCAA bubble proves that—and is a sign things need to change.

The National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) received backlash when photos circulated of the difference in quality between men’s and women’s weight rooms in the bubble. While the men’s weight room had various types of equipment, the women’s included only yoga mats and 30-pound dumbbells.

The food given to the women was also severely lacking; while men were treated to a buffet, the women’s dinners included fewer and lesser quality options.

There’s no excuse for this inequity. While the NCAA has since apologized, it chalked the incident up to a pandemic fluke, ignoring much larger issues at play like the overall lack of funding for women’s athletics.

People often look down on women’s sports, criticizing them for making less money than men’s sports. But that logic is flawed; women’s sports have never been given the opportunity to grow as profitable as their male counterpart.

The inequities within the NCAA bubble’s weight rooms are an issue but not a lone one; it’s part of a larger system that continually sidelines women athletes, failing to take them seriously or offer the funding they deserve and then blaming them for not being profitable enough.

 The NCAA must commit to investing in women’s athletics.

Title IX guarantees female athletes equality, including sports scholarships. Yet that doesn’t mean they’ll receive the equal opportunities and support they need to succeed and thrive down the line. The NCAA bubble is proof of that.

By failing to fund women—and refusing to even acknowledge inequities rooted in sports in its apology statement—the organization is sending a message to female athletes, both young and old, that they don’t matter.

Equity isn’t just an issue within professional sports; it’s present in private athletics, too.

While many gyms are women’s only, or offer women’s only rooms, they often lack the same space and equipment compared to gender-neutral ones. The ARC’s women-only gym is a prime example. Prior to its upgrade, the gym was a small room with a lack of equipment. While the gym has since been upgraded to a much larger space, it’s rented out to various clubs and programs, meaning it’s not available as often as the normal gym.

Giving women a safe space to exercise only works if that space is equitable. While they’re free to use gender-neutral spaces, those aren’t always safe for women. Others can’t use them for religious reasons.

Women athletes deserve to be treated with the same respect as their male counterparts. That means giving women’s sports the funding—and resources—they need.

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