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NCAA Shorts Women; High School Ensures Equality

Commentary By Emma Duncan--Eagle Assistant Editor

For centuries, women have been overlooked in pretty much every aspect of life, except homemaking that is. While much headway has been made in establishing equality for females of all ages, there is still one major field where not much has changed: sports.

A disappointing yet exemplary depiction of this is the discrimination female athletes were facing during the NCAA March Madness tournament.

“Players at the men’s tournament have benefited from an enormous, well-stocked workout complex in downtown Indianapolis. But the stars of the women’s game... appeared to have only a rack of hand weights,” Juliet Macur and Alan Blinder wrote in an article for The New York Times.

In the same article, the pair implied this should have never been an issue for numerous reasons, including the amount of money the NCAA makes solely from the men’s tournament.

The NCAA tried to say this lack of equipment was caused by lack of space, but that was also proven a useless excuse.

“Sedona Prince, an Oregon sophomore, posted a video online showing an abundance of space where the women are training. Adjacent to the women’s practice court, a vast, wide open area is unused,” Macur and Blinder explained.

Even though the NCAA apologized for their actions, many, including Eagle Athletic Director Crystal Worley, don’t think a "we're sorry” is enough, as they believe a bigger issue is at hand.

“I was very upset when I saw the inequities in the NCAA basketball tournament,” she commented. "The issue is not the weight room or the swag bags, it’s the visual realization that our female athletes are not valued by the governing body of college athletics. Social media brought attention to a problem that has existed for many years.”

Basketball Head Coaches Thomas Hering and LeBryan Patterson felt Worley’s disappointment.

“It is shocking to me that the Women's weight room incident ever happened,” shared Hering, the boys’ head coach. “The NCAA should obviously know better, but everyone makes mistakes and I was glad to see they fixed the problem.”

A situation like this has reportedly never happened at FCHS, and to ensure it doesn’t happen any time soon, Worley has worked with administration and coaches alike to establish gender equality in all aspects of Eagle Athletics.

“We work diligently to ensure that our young women feel valued as they participate in Athletics,” Worley explained. “Our game and practice facilities for both sexes are far above average.”

She went on to list some examples of equality Eagle athletes experience.

“Our weight rooms are open for all athletes. Our travel on Eagle busses is comparable, our hotel accommodations and meal money match, [and] our strength and conditioning print and are open to both male and female teams,” Worley continued.

Girls’ Head Coach Patterson has been more than grateful for Worley’s constant efforts.

“I don’t believe we could measure Ms. Worley's actions by gender equality in Boys’ vs Girls’ Basketball, I know her to be reasonable, and fair,” he commented. “As the girls’ head coach I believe I am given the same opportunity to give our ladies a valuable experience, as any other sport coach. I just don’t believe we can rate her actions by gender equality.”

Patterson feels these changes have significantly evened the playing field.

“I have been blessed to work with the Football and Boys Basketball programs here at FC, [and even] those guys hear the words “No” at times; so I expect there will be times as a girls coach I will hear the same. At the end of the day as coaches we are given “YES” to those things God believes we truly need for our programs. I believe we often look at decisions from one perspective and not the other; that helps things to make sense. There is a lot that goes into making a decision, and we will never understand looking from only one perspective. There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Crutchfield and Ms. Worley want the best for all students and every student-athlete,” he explained with appreciation.

However, girls’ and boys’ sports still stand on two separate platforms when you consider popularity. For example, the men’s March Madness tournament annually receives at least twice the amount of viewers in comparison to the women’s games. On the high school level, the student section is often much more full for boys’ games than for the girls.

So can anything be done to change this, even just on the high school level?

“I know for High School sports it would benefit the girls teams to play their games on different nights from the boys,” Hering suggested. “I think more students for sure would attend. Also, if ticket prices for students were less, more students would attend all games.”

Furthermore, an increase in publicity for girls’ games would bring in more fans. Students can’t come support their fellow Eagles without knowing when games will be played. Themes could also be created for the student sections at girls’ games to encourage students to show their Eagle pride.

After that, however, everything is up to the fans. They get to decide whether or not the Lady Eagles play with a stand full of screaming supporters or dribble down the court in silence.

“Change will only occur with the help of the students of FCHS,” Varsity Girls’ Basketball player and senior Arianna Belcher expressed. “With the acknowledgment of girls sports and the same participation as in boys games, change is possible.”

Understandably, there is only so much that can be done during times like these, but members of the girls’ basketball team here yearn for the student recognition they deserve.

“For more people to support all Lady Eagles would mean a lot not just to me, but to all the ladies who work hard day in and day out to excel in their sport. Personally, I've never felt much support during my time on the girls' basketball team, but to see future generations gain the whole school's support would mean the world to me,” Belcher finished.

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