Thing is, there's actually two NCAA tournaments going on. The men's and the women's. And that's where something is wrong.
While the men's tourney was going on last Thurs-Sun, I could get every game on my dish. Four at the same time? No problem. Cable stations TNT, something called truTV, TBS, and even the mighty CBS were all on board. Click, click, click.
Earlier tonight, the ladies' teams were playing, so I went to check it out. Guess what? The only game available was on a secondary ESPN channel. The other stations that were there for the men had gone elsewhere when the ladies tipped it up. One had something on called "Lizard Lick Towing", whatever that is. Another had Hawaii 5-0, or maybe it was reruns of Two and a Half Men.
Even ESPN's flagship channel was airing an NIT game, of all things. Instead of showing premier ladies' hoop action, they decided to go with men's teams that weren't good enough to qualify for the REAL tournament in the first place.
Besides being an obvious reason for the ladies to be pissed, shouldn't this be a clear violation of Title IX, which was supposed to equal things out between the sexes in college athletics? Not so fast.
Title IX had it's origins way back in the Lyndon Johnson administration, pretty close to the same time the historic Civil Rights acts came about. Back then, it had little to do with college athletics. Over the years, it's been amended, tweaked, and certainly highly debated all along the way, to finally morph into what most of us regard it as today. There's a lot of fine print, but the essence of it is as follows:
- Whether the selection of sports and levels of competition effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of members of both sexes;
- The provision of equipment and supplies;
- Scheduling of games and practice time;
- Travel and per diem allowance;
- Opportunity to receive coaching and academic tutoring on mathematics only;
- Assignment and compensation of coaches and tutors;
- Provision of locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities;
- Provision of medical and training facilities and services;
- Provision of housing and dining facilities and services;
But there's the catch. Title IX only applies to the schools. The legislators can pass all the laws they want in that regard, but they have absolutely no authority to control what the TV people decide to televise or not. Nor probably should they, because that could become a slippery slope in a hurry.
TV is all about ratings, so if they figure Lizard Lick Towing will get them higher Neilsen numbers than ladies' college basketball played at it's highest levels -- they're free to do so.
But I strongly disagree with that logic. The lady round ballers and their fans could and should be outraged. Two and a Half Men pre-empting them? Book-em, Danno, is better viewing than what these superbly conditioned and highly skilled athletes have worked their whole young lives for? Pah-leeze.
As a personal aside, there's this feisty young lady named Nyk, that used to play guard on the Univ of Mich ladies' hoop team not long ago. Now it seems she's become something of a gold standard, so to speak. My guess is she might actually agree with me -- for once.