We March On: Finally, Justice for Women’s Basketball

If you’re a women’s sports fan, the image of the stark, almost comedic, inequities between the 2021 men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments is seared into your brain. While there’s definitely a long way to go before we get true parity between the tournaments, we’ve seen some improvement. For starters, the women’s tournament can officially be called March Madness as of 2022 and this year, the NCAA signed a massive new media deal with ESPN that values the women’s tournament at $65 million. We’re moving on up!

A Record-Breaking Year

It seems like every single day a new record is being broken in women’s college basketball. From Stanford women’s basketball coach Tara VanDerveer passing Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski for the most coaching wins in college basketball history to Caitlin Clark beating Pete Maravich’s record to score the most career points in Division I history for men or women. Even fans are breaking viewership records left and right: five women’s conference championships set viewership records this year. Two women’s games brought in more than 1 million views each on the Big Ten Network for the first time ever. And my personal favorite: an LSU vs. South Carolina women’s game had more viewers than an NBA game—airing at the same time. I will gladly increase my screen time for the sake of women’s basketball. 

If You Build It, They Will Come

Not only are there so many phenomenal women players in college basketball right now, but they’re being treated like the bonafide stars that they are. Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark are in the top 10 NIL valuations of all amateur athletes, celebrities like Travis Scott are showing out at women’s games, and schools like Iowa are giving women’s teams opportunities to play at bigger venues—like their football stadiums. If you build it they will come, right? 

So many incredible athletes to cheer on this month, here’s who I’m rooting for: 

  • LSU’s Angel Reese: a superstar on and off the court, Angel isn’t afraid to make that play and be vocal about what she needs. It may be her last season at LSU, but I know she’s going to leave it all on the court.
  • USC’s JuJu Watkins: she’s only a freshman but JuJu has had celebrities courtside since she was in high school so the NCAA fanfare isn’t anything new. She’s broken just about every record USC had while bringing her team back into the top 5. 
  • Stanford’s Cameron Brink: one of the greatest players the sport has ever seen. She just declared for the WNBA—and is projected to go 2nd overall—but promised she’s locked in for her final tournament of her college career.
  • Iowa’s Caitlin Clark: you’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of Caitlin Clark. She’s Iowa’s hometown hero who is almost superhuman on the court. It’s also her last season at the tournament, and I have no doubt she’ll keep the hits coming this month.

Whether you’re a lifelong women’s basketball fan or a newcomer, I hope you’ll join me in making a bracket, watching March Madness, and rooting for women’s sports all year long.