An insight into the deep-seated misogyny of collegiate sports, and its correlation to Saint Mary’s.
By Annika Henthorn
News Reporter visiting the Sports Section
In March 2018, Sedona Prince, a women’s basketball player for Oregon University, posted a tik tok that went viral. It highlighted the disturbing difference between the men’s and women’s weight rooms during the notorious March Madness. One was adorned with a variety of weights and equipment, while the other had a small rack of hand weights and dumbbells. Can you guess which room was for the men’s team? If you could not tell, the men’s room was the one stacked with equipment, while the women’s room lacked all but a couple of dumbbells. This explicit act of misogyny by the NCAA has attracted more attention to the issues of sexism, specifically within collegiate sports.
Many questioned whether the obvious difference in quality between men’s and women’s tournaments was legal under Title IX, preventing discrimination on the basis of sex. However, according to NBC, in the NCAA v. Smith case, the NCAA is no longer required to abide by the regulations of Title IX. This is due to the fact that NCAA is not federally funded, unlike the colleges and universities that comprise them. Despite this, they have claimed to voluntarily adhere to Title IX, but their actions say otherwise.
Although this might seem like a larger issue at play, women’s athletes at Saint Mary’s have also revealed their similar experiences. “Coaches would tell us to eat better and lose weight, it’s a big mental strain on women,” says a player who would like to remain anonymous. With already impossible body standards, women, even more so, women athletes, feel immense pressure from outsiders as well as coaches to lose weight and look a certain way.
“There is a strong correlation between women’s collegiate sports and struggles with mental health and eating disorders,” says our source. According to The Sport Journal, 84% of college athletes have suffered from dysfunctional eating habits like excessive eating, bingeing, fasting, etc. With the copious amounts of training and exercise required of athletes, the dire need to refuel is disregarded to satisfy or exceed the goals of their coaching staff. Oftentimes, there seems to be this misconception that performance is linked to an athlete’s body type or build. This destructive mindset has deep and lasting effects on athletes, reinforcing unhealthy eating habits that encourage women to loathe their natural selves.
Not only do body standards plague women’s sports, but also the lack of representation. “Men’s sports are more advertised and tend to have a lot more funding,” our source shared. Reiterated by Prince’s experience at the NCAA tournament, women’s sports are typically shoved in the shadow of men’s, constantly undervalued and under-promoted. Many tend to argue that women’s sports receive less viewership than men’s; however, it’s difficult to compete when women’s sports are seldom announced or advertised.
The devastating reality behind female athletes perpetuates itself through outdated and inexcusable methods of training. Women are perceived as moldable clay that can be stretched and adjusted to their coach’s liking. However, as female athletes have begun to speak out, change is gradually being made.