Every year, each member of my department fills out a NCAA Men's Basketball bracket. We tape them up to a wall and there is a complicated point system for determining who wins the brackets. I don't know anything about basketball, but I fill out a bracket every year because it's kind of fun. Especially if your bracket does well and you know nothing about basketball. We don't have a prize other than bragging rights. It fosters camaraderie. My bracket is already dead seeing how I picked Virginia to win the whole kit-and-caboodle. Any way. That's March Madness for you. There's always some big surprise and upset.
This year I thought I'd shake things up around here and make us all fill out brackets for the NCAA Women's Basketball Championships. Actually, the more I thought about it the more I wondered why we never filled out a bracket for women's basketball before and I got a little irritated. Now to be fair, I don't know anything about women's basketball either except U.Conn is THE team. I don't watch basketball because it makes me nervous. I get so anxious watching the ball move from one end of the court to another that if I don't turn it off, I will need to take drugs. That being said, I fully recognize the amount of work and skill that is required to be a good ball player. It is an intense sport no matter what gender is playing it. So I kind of felt like our lack of filling out women's brackets was bullshit, but when I went online to get a printable bracket for the Women's Basketball Championship, I had the hardest time finding a printable bracket. I found interactive brackets, but an actual printable one was not easy to get ahold of. The one I did end up printing is kind of crappy. The spaces for writing in teams are small and confusing. They really just don't make it easy to follow the Women's Championship.
And this made me mad.
Why is it that women's sports, in general, are ignored? I mean, women play just as hard (at times harder) and as intensely as men in these sports. A number of the WNBA players are mothers. New mothers. They're juggling babies while getting their bodies back into playing shape and traveling across the country with that baby. I read an article from 2015 about Taylor Hill, a guard for the Mystics. Her son was a one year old at the time. The team checked into their hotel on Tuesday for a Wednesday game. In the time after checkin and before the Wednesday game, Taylor unpacked her luggage, fixed baby bottles, changed diapers, attended practice, planed and hosted a birthday party. These women work hard off and on the court, but still Women's basketball has yet to bring in the hype and endorsements equivalent to Men's basketball. Women's basketball is not the only sport to fall victim to this either. Just last year the women of the U.S. Soccer team, sued the U.S. Soccer Association for equal pay. From 2012 to 2016, the women's national team played 40 to 50% more games than the men's team. And they make less money than the male players.
The argument for not paying women in sports equally comes down to endorsements. Not that the college players get any money from the endorsements, but it does set the precedence for professional sports. "Well... the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship just doesn't bring in the outside money like the men's does." So maybe it's time we start voting with our money and promoting women's basketball. The more we turn our attention to it, the more advertisers will want to be involved. Sports related TV channels will make it easier to follow the championships and they'll come up with a better printable bracket. When I made the announcement to the group about filling out a women's bracket. I was met with very mild enthusiasm, but they filled out a bracket. One person said "but no one cares about women's basketball." I looked at that one person and said "we do now!"
We do now!