The men’s version of the College World Series — an eight-team baseball tournament held each year in Omaha — treats the players better. They have off days, as well as a golf outing, a free massage day and a celebratory dinner for coaches, players and dozens of guests, Molly Hensley-Clancy of The Washington Post reported.
The Oklahoma City softball stadium is also too small to hold all the fans who would like to attend, and many games sell out quickly. It has a capacity of about 13,000 (recently expanded from 9,000), compared with 24,000 for the baseball stadium in Omaha. “I think we could easily get 20,000, just like the men,” one longtime coach told The Post. “But we won’t get that chance.”
Similar ratings, different treatment
Gender equality in sports has been the subject of growing debate in recent years, partly because of protests from the U.S. women’s soccer team over its treatment. The new attention on college sports was prompted by a video that Sedona Prince, a University of Oregon basketball star, posted on social media in March. In it, she contrasted the sprawling weight room for the men’s tournament with a single small rack of weights for the women’s tournament.
“If you’re aren’t upset about this problem, then you are a part of it,” she said. (Gillian Brassil has profiled Prince in The Times, focusing on her recovery from a life-threatening leg injury.)
The video received tens of millions of views and led athletes, coaches and parents in other sports to scrutinize other college tournaments, Alan Blinder, a Times sports reporter, told me. “It’s an issue that has wide resonance on social media, where student-athletes can make their views and experiences known without as much interference from a university gatekeeper,” Alan said. Women’s volleyball players, for example, documented that their practice court consisted of a mat atop a cement floor.