Juniors Mackenzie Marcum and Kelly Weidemann with Head Coach Ronda Shirley (Credit: Deitrich Wright)
The NCAA has once again disappointed and failed its female athletes following the backlash it received from how the ruling body handled the National Women’s Basketball Tournament in late March.
After a difficult season of restrictions, masks, social distancing, schedule changes and cancellations, the victorious division I Women’s Volleyball teams are heading to Omaha, Neb., for the National Tournament. The first and second rounds begin on April 14 before regionals on April 18-19, and the National Championship April 22-24.
Given that there is no men's tournament to overshadow the women's bracket, like there was with the basketball national tournament, it was expected that women's volleyball would receive the tournament experience they deserve.
But Thursday NCAA Women’s volleyball posted a statement on its website and social media to clarify how the tournament will be broadcast. “As in previous years, there is no requirement to produce coverage of or provide live commentary in the first and second rounds of the Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship - this year in partnership with the NCAA, ESPN committed to cover every match either livestream or broadcast,” according to the statement.
“Due to pandemic-related restrictions and the format this year, there are additional technical challenges, including four streams going out at the same time from one location. Announcers will call matches remotely for the Regional Semifinals and Regional Finals – then will be on-site to call matches for the National Semifinals and Championship match, according to the statement.
The statement has caused another social media controversy for the NCAA. Comments from the public on Instagram include, “imagine if the NCAA basketball tournament didn’t have the first 2 rounds broadcast. We are supposed to just accept this?” And another read, “the NCAA is disappointing women athletics one championship at a time.”
Women’s sports are already overlooked by the public, so for the NCAA to contribute to this against their own athletes disrespects their contributions to the association. Failing to stream the entire tournament because there is “no requirement” shows how there are still injustices when it comes to women's sports.
Much like basketball, these teams have worked tirelessly to achieve the main goal of any collegiate team - make the national tournament. To work that hard just to have the NCAA declare that women’s volleyball matches are not important enough to stream in the early rounds, completely undermines the success of their season.
Some teams won't make it past the first round, they have a singular moment at the tournament to showcase their work and play on the national stage. Deliberately taking this away from female athletes is shameful for the NCAA and contributes to the issue of women not having a fair opportunity to live in the glory of their work.