Dear NCAA,

Wow, you did it again and I bet you didn’t even think you were going to get caught. It was bad enough during the Women’s Basketball Tournament that you allowed such differences in the men’s and women’s facilities, you didn’t even bother to look forward and try to spot possible problems in the future in other sports, like softball.

I attended the NCAA Women’s Softball tournament this past weekend. I am a proud citizen of Oklahoma City and I want everyone that comes and visits my city to be well taken care of and respected, to enjoy themselves. What I saw was nothing more than a circus put on by your organization, with women’s sports the victim.

Don’t get me wrong, it is a well ran tournament (mostly), but fans of women’s softball, me included, would watch great teams play each other anywhere, because we love the sport and what it teaches girls and women. I took my little boy to the tournament, and honestly, he enjoyed it more than when I took him to the men’s Big 12 baseball tournament last week.

People enjoy watching strong women doing extraordinary things….Why can’t you grasp that? But I suppose you do, but only if it doesn’t interfere with a men’s game that is being played at the same time.

The problem I saw was simple: women’s sports are still treated like women’s sports, and it’s about time we stop doing that. Sure, I understand that the games are shorter in length and you can schedule more games in one day than the men’s. But should you? I promise you as a physical therapist myself, if we break down the energy output between a female and male during their respected games, you would probably not see much of a difference. But hey, no one really wants to do that research do they? That would imply that someone cares about women’s health, and if we have learned anything over the last several decades, it’s that men in power don’t care about women’s health.

Also, the game I attended had four umpires, which is perfectly fine, I feel that the game can be fairly called with that many umpires. Oh, did I mention that only one of them was a female? I don’t know the make up of equality in the number of female umpires in the NCAA, heck, perhaps you have a shortage of them. I may be willing to bet that you have at least enough to field a crew that is at least 50% female for all games, if not 100%. But you are right, I sure would hate to discriminate against male umpires in a female sport. And we certainly don’t won’t men to feel like women are coming for their jobs.

Truth be told, don’t bother talking to little girls about growing up to be strong women if the policies you have in place are meant more to appease a gender, not advance them.

Women in general need to know that the world cares about them. They need to know that they are as equally respected in the world as their male counterparts, regardless of the revenue their sport brings in. Otherwise, we are telling these young ladies, and society in general, that your worth is simply based on how much money you can make. Shouldn’t we be teaching kids if they want to change the world, they shouldn’t focus on making money, but rather, making a difference?

What do we tell little girls when they ask why the men’s tournament gets nicer things? Do we simply tell them that it makes more money therefor it should get more attention? I wonder what that tells the little girl about her own worth?

We are setting up these young ladies to live in a working world that already pays them less than men who do the same job. Don’t we need to start the changes somewhere? Maybe in college?

As an organization that deals with young women in the educational setting, you should set the tone, be the voice of a group who’s own voice is often times muted by society. You have the power to help bring about long overdue change not only in sport, but in society. Please tell me the message you play on the jumbotron at games about girl power isn’t just lip service, because I promise you, women are tired of lip service.

I hope during this summer off from college athletics, you the NCAA, take the time and measures necessary to elevate women, because if you can’t and won’t, we may not have any female athletes to play anymore, because they have all given up on the world that you refuse to change.

But then again, women are pretty strong, just watch the women at the World Series. You could learn a few things from them.

In Kind, 

Mark Brown