The laughable gap between men’s and women’s weight rooms at a billion-dollar basketball tournament has been exposed — creating a giant uproar.
The laughable gap between men’s and women’s weight rooms at a billion-dollar basketball tournament has been exposed — creating a giant uproar.

Weights room photo divides America

A gender controversy has erupted at March Madness - the billion-dollar college basketball spectacle that began in Indiana on Saturday.

It ignited after Ali Kershner, a performance coach at Stanford, posted images to Instagram highlighting the discrepancy between the weights room provided to men's and women's players while they live and play in a bubble-style set up in Indianapolis.

While the men were equipped with a giant floor space filled with racks of dumbbells, plates, bars and racks, the women were given just one rack of small dumbbells and a pile of yoga mats.

"Not usually one for this type of post but this deserves attention," Kershner wrote.

"This is the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament vs. Women's Basketball tournament bubble set up.

"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 DBs (dumbbells) above 30 (pounds) until the sweet 16? In a year defined by a fight for equality this is a chance to have a conversation and get better."

But that was just the start of the fireworks.

Despite other performance coaches from women's teams revealing they were in the same boat, the NCAA - which organises the tournament - tried to blame it on "limited space".

"We acknowledge that some of the amenities teams would typically have access to have not been as available inside the controlled environment," the NCAA's vice president of women's basketball 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."

But that excuse was quickly exposed by Oregon player Sedona Prince, who showed the huge amount of space available that could have been used.

Prince's video received widespread support, including from NBA superstar Steph Curry who replied: "Wow - come on now! NCAA y'all trippin trippin."

Of course there were also plenty of people quick to raise a defence based around the revenue the men's tournament brings in compared to the women's.

It included a since-deleted Instagram comment from former NBA player Nick Young - which he claimed was the result of an account hacking.

"Man y'all not bringing in the big bucks, y'all the JV (junior varsity) team and it's cool," the comment read.

The NCAA's Committee on Women's Athletics followed up by demanding an independent investigation into the situation, writing a letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert which said the debacle "sets back women's college athletics across the country".

Originally published as Weights room photo divides America


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