NCAA Match a triumph for girls’s basketball | Nationwide Sports activities

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As it turned out, Kim Mulkey shouldn’t have worried. The NCAA was able to continue COVID-19 testing through to the end, ending a safe, successful tournament and final four in San Antonio. In doing so, she crowned Stanford national champion in a game that went to the end.

Sure, as none of the games during the tournament were postponed and were successful on many fronts.

The games were competitive, intense, at a high level and the results were unpredictable. UConn, 14-point favorite, lost to Arizona in the semifinals. The UConn Iowa game caused a sensation with the star power of the newcomers Paige Bueckers and Caitlin Clark. The UConn-Baylor and Stanford-South Carolina games were instant classics. There were controversial phone calls that made people talk and worry.

The television viewership, which can create so many positive ripple effects, soared 11 percent from 2019, and the audience for UConn-Arizona peaked at over 3.3 million.

And when all of this caught our attention, Oregon’s Sedona Prince made the world aware of the tournament we wouldn’t necessarily have seen on the pregame shows, the gender inequalities in facilities and food, less reliable antigen COVID-19 testing compared to swab tests. and that led to discussions about logos, marketing and why “March Madness” had been an alliteration that only applied to the men’s tournament for too long.

Women’s basketball has made many breakthroughs over the years. Some of us are old enough to remember when the first undefeated UConn team in 1995 watched the nation and was expected to spark the kind of progress that is still inexplicably elusive. Lots of epic games come to mind – UConn-Mississippi State, 2017 – and charismatic stars have come and gone to the pros over the past 26 years. The game continues to grow and get better. There are more good players, more coaches like Adia Barnes from Arizona, who develop better programs.

But the problems with the lower abdomen persist because, according to Kipling, the commotion and screaming die every year and then the captains and kings leave. We all switch to Masters, baseball and soccer, and the women’s game seems to have to start all over again the following fall.

Let’s not let that happen in 2021. From the NCAA to conferences and member schools to TV managers and the media, we should make sure that the gifts from the 2021 NCAA tournament continue to be given out.

Will you?

“We’ll see,” great UConn and TV basketball analyst Rebecca Lobo told me last week. “That is my attitude towards it. I am so glad that the conversation is taking place. It took a discrepancy in weight rooms or pictures of food on social media to find the trigger. It was foreseeable for a long time. What will the tournament look like next year? What will the budgets look like between the men’s and women’s tournaments? This will really tell us if it’s lip service or if it’s a real commitment. “

We saw the lip service. NCAA President Mark Emmert said at his business press conference that the NCAA “dropped the ball” and promised to do better. An outside firm with expertise in gender equality and Title IX was brought in to conduct a thorough review. He remarked more than once that the NCAA has held men’s championships for 100 years and women’s championships for only 40 years, so that a “60-year lead” has to be overcome.

Um, come on. That means the NCAA had 40 years to catch up, and as Emmert said, many of the blatant problems uncovered in San Antonio were “fairly easily fixed”.

So there will be studies, recommendations and committees. doesn’t always exist It’s more about the mindset. Instead of noticing that the women’s tournament is not generating enough revenue, which by the way depends on how you spin the numbers, why not start with a determination to market and promote it until it does? Respect your own product and attract more.

“There is absolutely no reason why these two [Final Four] Logos cannot be what the women want, ”said Emmert. “So the employees are part of the NCAA. You are part of my national office. We all work and live in the same building. This is not someone against the NCAA; It’s part of the NCAA. The March Madness logo can, and if the Women’s Committee and the Women’s Community want to use it, there is no reason they can’t use it similarly. “Final Four” is used by both of them, and whether or not to use the logo with a gender identifier is up to the committee and they can be sure to do whatever they want to do with those things. So, yes, I am fully committed to it. “

The larger picture is broken down into smaller, lesser-known parts that fall on individual universities and schools. Geno Auriemma said during the height of the Prince’s TikTok position controversy that he fought at UConn for 20 years to get the equity he was looking for.

“For a lot of coaches in women’s sports,” he said, “not just for women’s basketball, who work as hard as any other coach in America, are successful and do an incredible job, and they do it with him.” Resources you would say are less than adequate in relation to what the men might have. And that’s in every school. “

As this tournament went on, the focus naturally and rightly shifted to basketball, and it was great basketball. Systemic problems like those uncovered during this March madness, and we will take it upon ourselves to apply that term to the women’s tournament, cannot all be fixed overnight. But they are not fixed without constant pressure and control, they are not fixed when we all forget that empty “weight room” after a champion is crowned.

Keep that intensity. The cheering has stopped, but the work must go on.

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