NCAA can do better when it comes to gender equality

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma softball coach Patty Gasso has had enough.

Her Sooners round off another dynamic season when they face Florida State in the final of the top three Women’s College World Series this week. But lately, she has more in mind than winning between the lines.

About a month ago, she entered the NCAA for its WCWS format. She pointed out that the Men’s College World Series runs for almost two weeks and does not include doubles programs while the women’s tournament lasts no longer than a week and requires multiple teams to play doubles. She said the current format is a health risk to her players and that she has been uncomfortable at times with the way she has had to use pitchers while winning her four national titles.

Gasso’s anger was raised again this week after the states of Florida and Oklahoma played a WCWS game that started around midnight and did not end until after 2 a.m. on Sunday. Although a delay due to the rain delayed things, she felt the situation could have been avoided. In the men’s World Series there are more days off and more flexibility in the schedules.

“It is very uncomfortable when we talk to our players about standing up for what is right, yet what is happening around us is not fair,” said Gasso. “And the players will do whatever you want them to do. They are not going to complain. They’re going to go to bed at three, wake up at seven, because it’s the World Series. But that’s not the memory they need.

If this sounds familiar to you, it should be: There was strong criticism of the inequalities between the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments earlier this year. Similar complaints were raised a few weeks later about the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament.

Now softball is doing its math.

There is a lot of energy behind this year’s WCWS, which returned after being canceled last year due to the pandemic. A $ 27.5 million project that Oklahoma City voters approved in 2017 has been completed, and the USA Softball Hall of Fame has new top decks that have increased seating from 9,000 to 13. 000, as well as improved changing rooms and other equipment.

The men’s and women’s World Series events got similar ratings in 2019 and the ratings are still good this year for WCWS, according to ESPN.

Just having more than women’s softball had before is no longer enough.

“I think softball is ready to explode, and I just hope we can get that across to the NCAA and look at some of the inequalities that are still involved in women’s sport,” said Mike Candrea, retired coach of Arizona. “And I think they need to be changed because we have a great product.”

The NCAA declined an interview request for this story, saying it wanted to stay focused on the athletes. Joni Comstock, senior vice president of the NCAA Championships, said the Division I softball committee that manages the format and programming includes active coaches and administrators from across the country.

There are questions, and not just about planning. Women do not have a shower at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium. And Gasso pointed out ahead of the tournament that there are no indoor batting facilities for women.

Men have these things.

“Oklahoma City did that by increasing the number of seats and you’re going to get that wow factor (at the stadium),” Gasso said. “But there are still things behind the scenes that need to be worked on, and they will. I know they will. We are in the right direction, without a doubt.

The NCAA made a change on Sunday. When another weather delay increased the potential for two very late games, they were moved to Monday and the championship series was postponed by one day to Tuesday.

Matthew Holmes, NCAA assistant director for championships and alliances, said it was an independent decision unrelated to the long night that dragged on Sunday. He said the games were moved because the softball committee did not want those games to potentially be split into separate days, giving one runner-up a day off while the other played in an elimination game.

Coaches believe permanent changes are needed. Florida State coach Lonni Alameda said the schedule makes players inferior to their best, which means viewers are getting less product.

“I really want to be a part of this discussion because I know that in our sport we will play until all hours, we will do whatever is necessary because we are a blue collar sport,” she said. declared. “But on the other hand, when we have something this great, we have to protect it and take care of it. This conversation must therefore begin. Now that I’ve been through it, I can move this conversation forward.



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