NCAA inequities carry over to the Women’s College World Series

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JUNE 4: The UCLA Bruins celebrate after a home run by Aaliyah Jordan #23 against the Oklahoma Sooners during the Division I Women's Softball Championship held at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium-OGE Energy Field on June 4, 2019 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (Photo by Shane Bevel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Women’s sports not getting the same treatment as the men’s has been the story of the NCAA this year.

That includes college softball.

The eight-team Women’s College World Series held every year in Oklahoma City is regularly sold out and draws a significant audience on ESPN. In 2019, 1.8 million people watched the final game of the championship series, according to the New York Times. The 1.05 million viewers ESPN averaged for the tournament was just below the 1.13 million averaged for baseball.

Despite those results, the treatment of the two sports differs greatly based on a recent report in the Washington Post.

The softball stadium in Oklahoma has no showers, so players and coaches shower at their hotels instead. A team might also go the entire tournament without a day off, with at least two teams guaranteed to play a double-header on the third day of the tournament.

Meanwhile, the men have significantly more downtime. According to the report, baseball teams have off days, a golf outing, a free massage day and a celebratory dinner for coaches, players and dozens of guests.

One coach also pointed out how softball’s position in the college sports hierarchy makes it even harder to effect change, with softball falling under women’s basketball which in turn falls under men’s basketball.

“They’re the chosen ones,” Michigan State coach Jacquie Joseph told the Post, referring to women’s basketball teams, “and they’re treated like afterthoughts. What’s lower than an afterthought? That’s us.”

On the field, the tournament continues to excite. In Thursday’s opener, James Madison upset top-seeded Oklahoma 4-3. On Friday, James Madison faces Oklahoma State at 7 p.m. ET and Alabama takes on UCLA at 9:30 p.m. ET, both on ESPN2.