Senior Opinion: Women suffer mistreatment in athletics

Senior Opinion: Women suffer mistreatment in athletics

Kati Blaylock, Reporter

Looking back on my childhood, one of my most prominent memories occurred during elementary school recess. Each day we would have the opportunity to venture outside to play and release our energy for a few minutes, depending on how well we behaved in class on that given day.

During this time, many of the boys would go and play soccer on the field, while the girls would go play on the playground equipment. One day, a new girl walked up and asked if she could play soccer and the response was “No way, you’re a girl.” Without even seeing how good she was, they immediately turned her away, but allowed other boys who had never played to join without any hesitation. It was not about how much talent someone had, but about gender alone, which is something that is still present in our society today, just on a grander and more detrimental scale.

According to the University of Minnesota, in 2020, 40% of all sports participants identify as female. However, female sport organizations receive less than 4% of media coverage, which includes professional and Olympic level sports. Due to the lack of coverage, female sports and athletes are not well known or liked, whereas male sports and athletes are more universal and well-known. With the continued rise of feminism and women’s rights, this topic of sporting equality is just the first of many.

One recent event which openly displays examples of this biased treatment was during the 2021 NCAA March Madness Tournament. Many athletes and celebrities across the globe spoke out after seeing videos highlighting the difference between the men’s and women’s competition. These videos highlighted many inequalities present at the tournament such as lack of equipment and a workable weight room, insufficient meals and lack of free apparel sponsoring and promoting the event.

Those participating for the men’s teams received a buffet of food, a swag bag compiled of various tournament items and a very spacious weight room. However, for the women, they only received pre-packaged Styrofoam boxes for all meals, a small swag bag in comparison and yoga mats and small weight dumbbells for a weight room.

With all this media attention, concerned athletes have taken to social media to share their concern about the treatment. Many bring up a valid point by disclosing the NCAA’s Title IX clause which explicitly states that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination…” Title IX goes on to state “Title IX requires the equal treatment of female and male student-athletes in the provisions of: equipment and supplies…”

In addition to lessened opportunities, women are paid a significantly smaller amount compared to their male counterparts, which has been an ongoing concern for years. According to Forbes, women are paid 15% to 100% less than men while actively participating in the same sport. Alongside a smaller wage, women also do not receive the same partnerships, endorsements or sponsorships as men do.

Given all the information I have presented above, I hope you can see the prominence in advocating for gender equality throughout our sports teams. We need to start realizing as a country how large of an issue gender inequality is. Not only in our sports teams, but also in daily life. Although this problem seems like a daunting task when confronted by one individual, we can all easily pitch in to solve the issue by simply advocating for change when we come into contact with it. Gender should not hold back athletic opportunities and it is far past time for the sporting world to acknowledge that.