Round-up: NCAA disrespects women athletes, revenue sharing, minor-league pay

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Today’s newsletter is going to be a bit of a week-end round-up of topics, as there are a few things floating around in my head or that I’d like to share with y’all. So, here goes.

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Usually part of the disparity between respect paid to men’s and women’s sport is in the pay itself, but don’t worry, the amateur-filled NCAA found another way to show they care less about the women athletes in their ranks than the men. The start of March Madness brought us social media posts showing off the truth of this, and it ranged from the space the women’s basketball players had to work out, to the food they were provided, to the kinds of swag and merch available for their half of the March Madness tournament.

University of Oregon’s Sedona Prince was on Tik Tok and Twitter sharing the conditions the women’s teams players were putting up with, then comparing it directly to what the men were working with, so there is no room for confusion here: the NCAA is providing much less for the women than the men.

The men have a massive, open-floor workout area that looks like a gym. There are plenty of weights, machines, and so on just out there, waiting to be used. The women, per Prince’s post, have one (1) rack of dumbbells. The excuse that the NCAA gave is that there were space limitations, which caused the disparity, but even if that were true, why is it that the women’s teams all have to go without, while the men have full access to workout equipment as if there are no space issues? That’s if it were true, but of course, it is not: Prince flipped her phone around long enough to show us the massive empty space on the women’s side of the hall that mirrors where the men’s workout area is, except, all it has is that one rack of dumbbells in it. The NCAA just didn’t provide the equipment for the women that they could have: space had nothing to do with it, other than the empty void in their head where thoughts of their women athletes should be.

Then there is the food: the men have a full-on buffet with myriad options to choose from, as Sarah Spain showed in a comparison photo on Twitter. The women, on the other hand, have some pre-packaged meals, with a Salisbury steak that looks like it was already gnawed on and then left out in the sun, and, somehow, mashed potatoes that did not appear to be edible. At least the steam vegetables were, uh, there. There’s an entire Instagram post showing off that food. You should watch it for curiosity’s sake, but if you feel convinced already, and don’t want to subject yourself to those “steaks,” feel free to skip.

And last, as Meg Linehan pointed out on Twitter, there’s just how the NCAA approaches March Madness for the two sides with their swag and logos. The men’s teams get MARCH MADNESS and Big Dance shit plastered all over everything. There are multiple pieces of swag for the women’s side that literally just say “WOMEN’S BASKETBALL” on them. As Linehan said, “The other thing beyond the disparity in how much stuff players get that I can’t get over is how the NCAA won’t let the women forget they play women’s basketball but the dudes get March Madness/Big Dance™ cool shit.”

You know, it’s just basketball when it’s the men, but when it’s women, it’s Women’s Basketball. They’re both basketball, and it’s beyond time that the NCAA treated the women’s teams as if that were the case. As LSU softball player A.J. Andrews tweeted on Thursday night:

Women in sports are not provided the same media coverage, marketing dollars, recognition or even support & then we’re told it’s because our sports aren’t as successful as the men. When In reality we just aren’t provided the same opportunity to be successful!

Remember that if you’re about to suggest that the women get less because their sports bring in less in revenue. The whole system is set up in a way that keeps that from changing: what other outcome could there be in that case?

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For Baseball Prospectus, I wrote about how we’re probably going to see a lot of discussion about the revenue sharing systems and what needs to change over the next few months. For one, MLB has loaned out revenue sharing money to the teams that were supposed to get it, so that’s sure to make some of the non-recipients annoyed when, as Evan Drellich reported, those loans possibly end up not being repaid. The other reason, though, is that we’ll see collective bargaining go down this year, and it’s unlikely the Players Association is thrilled with how revenue sharing dollars are spent. We already know that’s the case, since they’ve filed grievances over the spending habits of multiple teams, so expecting more concrete discussions on it between the two sides makes sense.

What the piece is really about, though, is that we’re unlikely to see any massive changes to the revenue sharing system this year, for a number of reasons — teams that love the current grift, no clear outcome for the aforementioned grievances as of yet, and a lack of agreement over just how to shake things up so that everyone is, well, if not satisfied, at least not upset.

I’ve got some thoughts on a potential fix for that — a stricter ruling on how revenue sharing dollars must be spent, more openness on that spending, and the use of revenue sharing dollars as akin to a budget that won’t be renewed if it’s not used — but as the piece says, any changes of that magnitude aren’t likely for this CBA, even if discussions are.

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Back in late-2020, I had a conversation with The Uncertain Hour’s Peter Balonen-Rosen about how minor-league players have been subjected to poverty-level wages for so long that it’s become just a baked-in part of the entire system. It was for a series the show was releasing in March, focusing on various low-paying jobs with exploited workers, and the episode where I appear finally went live this week. You’ve certainly seen me write about a lot of this, but it’s still wonderful to see it discussed in an admittedly larger space to an admittedly larger audience than I’m usually able to muster up these days. As I imply in the interview, there’s still all kinds of work to be done to make the pay scales fair, even after MLB’s raises for minor-league players for the 2021 season.

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And lastly, a non-sports plug: I appeared on Trevor Strunk’s No Cartridge yet again, to discuss my other newsletter, Retro XP, where I cover retro video games. I’m currently working on a project where I’m ranking the top 101 Nintendo games, developed and/or published by Nintendo over 35-plus years. If you’re at all interested in video games, check out that podcast, and you can also sign up for Retro XP itself. It’s free, and so far, good for my brain.

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