We all march to the beat of a drum that we didn’t make. But even so, we are led to believe that it is our own drum. Do women march to the beat of their own drum, or do we march to the beat of the men’s drum? Many would argue no, but in the world of sports, it may be temporarily unavoidable. It is inevitable that sports on the male side generate more revenue, and more revenue often leads to much higher pay. It makes sense, statistically speaking, that there is an immense pay gap between the male and female side of sports. I am not here to demand equal pay. At the moment, it is not realistic. However, I am here to argue that we should have the opportunity to achieve it one day.
In the men’s NCAA basketball tournament this year, the university of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), a 16 seed, beat Virginia, the number 1 overall seed, in the first round of the tournament. This was historic, yes, and a powerful message to the underdogs of any circumstance to “never say never”‘ But, there is a lot more written in the history books on the top shelf. You know, those books in the library that are way up on the very top shelves where we can’t see the title, or reach them without a ladder. I’ve always wondered why this was the case. We absentmindedly don’t go to these books because of their inconvenient location.
“The first 16 seed to ever upset a 1 seed in the tournament” chimed over and over on ESPN, TSN, CNN, Twitter and Instagram to name a few. It took everyone by surprise, and not to mention, ruined many bets on brackets. However, as historic, energetic and phenomenal as the night was, it was not a first. In the 1998 women’s NCAA basketball tournament, Harvard was the No.16 seed, and upset Stanford, ironically enough, as the No.1 seed in the first round. The best part is, I didn’t even know this.
Of course, many female athletes took to social media, trying to bring those dusty history books down into the light. But, were their voices heard? Were any tweets or posts updated? I will let that one speak for itself. What do you think?
I am not here to tear down male sports or businesses. I never have been. I am here to say that, as a whole, businesses should not have a certain amount of female employees that they “need” to hire, to “make representation equal,” for example. Women should be able to be compared for said positions equally, and based on merit. I am not going to tell anyone that they are wrong for not being interested in women’s college sports. I do believe, however, that games should get equal showing time on sports channels, to give us the opportunity to generate the revenue and fan base for more equal pay.
This year’s women’s NCAA basketball tournament boasted two of the most competitive and exhilarating final four games in history, both going into overtime. For those who say women’s basketball, or women’s sports in general don’t deserve a chance because they are boring, well, if we want to be statistical, there is very concrete evidence to prove otherwise.
Even so, here’s the million-dollar question: Why do we play sports? Or, on this column’s note, why do women play sports in the shadow of men? I strongly believe that there is more to it than just the love of the game. We are here to demonstrate that we are strong too, and that we deserve a chance to be treated as such. We fight against the inequality among all women, and stand together on any platform we may have, big or small. The men may cast a much larger shadow, but the sun doesn’t shine in the same spot all day. Soon our shadows will be visible.
We don’t demand to be more than men. We demand a chance to compete, which just given the outcome of the tournament this year, we seem to be pretty good at.
Contact Mikaela Brewer at mbrewer8 ‘at’ stanford.edu.