- The NCAA came under fire Thursday after viral images showed the glaring difference in weight room accommodations at its men’s and women’s basketball tournament sites.
- The photos showed that men’s teams had access to several rows of heavy-duty weight lifting equipment while the women’s weight room consisted of six pairs of dumbbells under 30 pounds and a stack of yoga mats.
- The organization responded by promising to enhance the women’s workout setup and blamed its current state on “limited space,” though many rejected that claim, including Oregon player Sedona Prince, who posted a viral TikTok showing the vast amount of open room at the practice facility.
- Both NBA and WNBA stars have slammed the unequal accommodations, with other critics also pointing to the significantly smaller “swag bags” women’s teams were given in comparison to the men’s teams.
Viral Weight Room Photos Spark Criticism
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is facing intense backlash after several basketball coaches, players, and fans criticized clear disparities between amenities at its men’s and women’s basketball tournament sites.
On Thursday, Stanford Sports Coach Ali Kershner posted shocking photos specifically comparing the women’s and men’s basketball weight rooms. The men’s room featured rows and rows of weight lifting equipment. Meanwhile, the women’s weight room (if it can even be considered that) consisted of six pairs of dumbbells and a stack of yoga mats.
“This needs to be addressed,” Kershner wrote in her Instagram post caption after tagging the organization and its affiliated basketball accounts.
“These women want and deserve to be given the same opportunities. Not only that – 3 weeks in a bubble and no access to [dumbbells] above 30’s until the sweet 16? In a year defined by a fight for equality this is a chance to have a conversation and get better.”
That post went viral, drawing in criticism from everyday college basketball fans as well as several WNBA players.
Chantel Jennings, a reporter for The Athletic, also released a list of the equipment the final 16 women’s teams were set to gain access to at that stage in the tournament, which was still far less impressive than what the men’s teams already had access to.
Teams that do get to the Sweet 16 receive:— Chantel Jennings (@ChantelJennings) March 18, 2021
(I’m no weight room expert, but based off counting alone, I’m going to say that it’s still less than what’s pictured for the men’s tournament.) pic.twitter.com/5Y9Q5IIluy
NCAA’s Response Draw More Outrage
The growing backlash eventually prompted the NCCA Vice Present of Women’s Basketball, Lynn Holzman, to issue a statement.
“We acknowledge that some of the amenities teams would typically have access to have not been as available inside the controlled environment,” Holzman said in a post shared to the organization’s social media.
“In part, this is due to the limited space and the original plan was to expand the workout area once additional space was available later in the tournament. However, we want to be responsive to the needs of our participating teams, and we are actively working to enhance existing resources at practice courts, including additional weight training equipment.
However, that claim about “limited space” was quickly rejected by people like Will Abrams, the director of player development for the Rutgers women’s team.
He posted a response video giving a glimpse at the vast amount of space available at the women’s practice facility.
That same criticism was echoed by Oregon player Sedona Prince, who posted a now-viral TikTok exposing just how much room was available.
“If you aren’t upset about this problem, then you’re a part of it,” Prince said in the post.
That TikTok was even shared by NBA star Stephen Curry. Meanwhile, reporter Jemele Hill posted a screenshot reminding people of the $500 million deal ESPN and the NCAA agreed to that included broadcasting the women’s tournament.
Others on social media also noted that the differences in how men’s and women’s teams are treated extend beyond just weight rooms. In fact, many even pointed to images of the “swag bags” provided to players at both tournaments, which showed that the men had been given a large number of items custom-designed for this year’s March Madness tournament. The women’s bag, by contrast, included only a few generic items, including a 150-piece puzzle and a towel that said “NCAA women’s basketball.”
From what I have been shown it appears the swag bags that the Men receive from the @NCAA are much more substantial than the Women as well. @ncaawbb @marchmadness. C’mon NCAA do better. Be better! pic.twitter.com/tDRjI9e5UJ— Dan Henry (@danhenry3) March 18, 2021
Others pointed to the differences between food options given to women’s and men’s teams.
More outrage spread when reporters learned about differences in the COVID-19 tests being used at each tournament. Women’s teams reportedly take antigen tests while men’s teams take PCR tests. According to the FDA, antigen tests give quick results, but they “have a higher chance of missing an active infection.” Meanwhile, PCR tests are considered “the gold standard” for COVID testing by many medical professionals.
The NCAA caught flack for defending that choice and saying there was no risk difference between the tests.
However, it did say that it followed recommendations from its medical advisory group and collaborated with the CDC as well as local medical authorities for its testing policy. The NCAA’s medical advisory group had advised that either daily PCR or antigen tests were “equally effective models for basketball championships.”
With outrage growing, NCAA Senior VP of Basketball Dan Gavitt apologized for the weight room discrepancies in a Zoom call Friday. He promised to get the facility upgraded as soon as possible, which happened over the weekend.
During that call, other differences were brought up, like the fact that there are 68 teams in the men’s field and only 64 in the women, and the fact that the NCAA pays for the men’s National Invitation Tournament, but not the women’s NIT.
The organization ultimately promised to do better, but conversations about sexism in the sports world have continued, with teams and players continuing to speak out.
Stanford’s basketball coach, for instance, issued a statement saying, “Women athletes and coaches are done waiting, not just for upgrades of a weight room, but for equity in every facet of life.”
“With the obvious disparity between the women’s and men’s tournaments, the message that is being sent to our female athletes, and women across the world, is that you are not valued at the same level as your counterparts. That is wrong and unacceptable.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Fox News) (Sports Illustrated)
Conservatives Slam Elmo For Getting Vaccinated Against COVID-19
While critics accused the muppet of promoting propaganda, CDC data shows the shots are safe and effective.
Elmo Gets Vaccinated
Conservative politicians expressed outrage on Twitter after the beloved “Sesame Street” character Elmo revealed he got vaccinated against COVID-19 on Tuesday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently cleared the way for children between the ages of six months and five years to get vaccinated against the virus. The famous red muppet is three years old, making him finally eligible for the jab.
In a video shared by “Sesame Street,” Elmo said that he felt “a little pinch, but it was okay.”
Elmo’s father, Louie, then addressed parents who might be apprehensive about vaccinating their own kids.
“I had a lot of questions about Elmo getting the COVID vaccine,” he said to the camera. “Was it safe? Was it the right decision? I talked to our pediatrician so I could make the right choice.”
“I learned that Elmo getting vaccinated is the best way to keep himself, our friends, neighbors, and everyone else healthy and enjoying the things they love,” he continued.
Republicans Criticize “Sesame Street”
While some praised the video for raising awareness and addressing the concerns parents may have, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx) quickly lambasted the effort.
“Thanks, Sesame Street for saying parents are allowed to have questions,” Cruz tweeted. “You then have Elmo aggressively advocate for vaccinating children UNDER 5. But you cite ZERO scientific evidence for this.”
Despite Cruz’s claim, the CDC has provided ample resources with information on vaccines for children.
He was not alone in criticizing the video. Harmeet Dhillon, a committeewoman of the Republican National Committee for California, suggested that Elmo would be taking puberty blockers next.
Other anti-vaxxers claimed Elmo would get myocarditis and accused “Sesame Street” of promoting propaganda.
COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to be both safe and effective against transmission of the virus, but this is not the first time conservatives have turned their anger against a friendly-looking muppet who opted to get the jab. When Big Bird got vaccinated in November, Cruz and other right-wing figures accused the show of brainwashing kids.
Big Bird’s choice to get vaccinated was not a shocker though, clips dating back to 1972 show him getting immunized against the measles.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Hill) (Market Watch)
Uvalde Puts Police Chief on Leave, Tries to Kick Him Off City Council
If Pete Arredondo fails to attend two more consecutive city council meetings, then he may be voted out of office.
Police Chief Faces Public Fury
Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo was placed on administrative leave Wednesday following revelations that he and his officers did not engage the shooter at Robb Elementary for over an hour despite having adequate weaponry and protection.
Superintendent Hal Harrell, who made the announcement, did not specify whether the leave is paid or unpaid.
Harrell said in a statement that the school district would have waited for an investigation to conclude before making any personnel decisions, but chose to order the administrative leave because it is uncertain how long the investigation will take.
Lieutenant Mike Hernandez, the second in command at the police department, will assume Arredondo’s duties.
In an interview with The Texas Tribune earlier this month, Arredondo said he did not consider himself in charge during the shooting, but law enforcement records reviewed by the outlet indicate that he gave orders at the scene.
Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw told state senators on Tuesday that some officers wanted to enter the classrooms harboring the shooter but were stopped by their superiors.
He said officer Ruben Ruiz tried to move forward into the hallway after receiving a call from his wife Eva Mireles, a teacher inside one of the classrooms, telling him she had been shot and was bleeding to death.
Ruiz was detained, had his gun taken away, and was escorted off the scene, according to McCraw. Mireles later died of her wounds.
Calls for Arredondo to resign or be fired have persisted.
Emotions Erupt at City Council
Wednesday’s announcement came one day after the Uvalde City Council held a special meeting in which community members and relatives of victims voiced their anger and demanded accountability.
“Who are you protecting?” Asked Jasmine Cazares, sister of Jackie Cazares, a nine-year-old student who was shot. “Not my sister. The parents? No. You’re too busy putting them in handcuffs.”
Much of the anger was directed toward Arredondo, who was not present at the meeting but was elected to the city council on May 7, just over two weeks before the massacre.
“We are having to beg ya’ll to do something to get this man out of our faces,” said the grandmother of Amerie Jo Garza, a 10-year-old victim. “We can’t see that gunman. That gunman got off easy. We can’t take our frustrations out on that gunman. He’s dead. He’s gone. … Ya’ll need to put yourselves in our shoes, and don’t say that none of ya’ll have, because I guarantee you if any of ya’ll were in our shoes, ya’ll would have been pulling every string that ya’ll have to get this man off the council.”
One woman demanded the council refuse to grant Arredondo the leave of absence he had requested, pointing out that if he fails to attend three consecutive meetings the council can vote him out for abandoning his office.
“What you can do right now is not give him, if he requests it, a leave of absence,” she said. “Don’t give him an out. We don’t want him. We want him out.”
After hearing from the residents, the council voted unanimously not to approve the leave of absence.
On Tuesday, Uvalde’s mayor announced that Robb Elementary is set to be demolished, saying no students or teachers should have to return to it after what happened.
We make it a point to not include the names and pictures of those who may have been seeking attention or infamy and will not link out to websites that might contain such information.
Texas Public Safety Director Says Police Response to Uvalde Shooting Was An “Abject Failure”
New footage shows officers prepared to engage the shooter one hour before they entered the classroom.
Seventy-Seven Deadly Minutes
Nearly a month after the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas that killed 19 children and two teachers, evidence has emerged indicating that police were prepared to engage the shooter within minutes of arriving, but chose to wait over an hour.
The shooting at Robb Elementary began at 11:33 a.m., and within three minutes 11 officers are believed to have entered the school, according to surveillance and body camera footage obtained by KVUE and the Austin American Statesman.
District Police Chief Pete Arredondo reportedly called a landline at the police department at 11:40 a.m. for help.
“It’s an emergency right now,” he said. “We have him in the room. He’s got an AR-15. He’s shot a lot… They need to be outside the building prepared because we don’t have firepower right now. It’s all pistols.”
At 11:52 a.m., however, the footage shows multiple officers inside the school armed with at least two rifles and one ballistic shield.
Law enforcement did not enter the adjoined classrooms to engage the shooter until almost an hour later, at 12:50 p.m. During that time, one officer’s daughter was inside the classrooms and another’s wife, a teacher, reportedly called him to say she was bleeding to death.
Thirty minutes before law enforcement entered the classrooms, the footage shows officers had four ballistic shields in the hallway.
Frustrated Cops Want to Go Inside
Some of the officers felt agitated because they were not allowed to enter the classrooms.
One special agent at the Texas Department of Public Safety arrived about 20 minutes after the shooting started, then immediately asked, “Are there still kids in the classrooms?”
“It is unknown at this time,” another officer replied.
“Ya’ll don’t know if there’s kids in there?” The agent shot back. “If there’s kids in there we need to go in there.”
“Whoever is in charge will determine that,” the other officer responded.
According to an earlier account by Arredondo, he and the other officers tried to open the doors to the classrooms, but found them both locked and waited for a master key to arrive. But surveillance footage suggests that they never tried to open the doors, which a top Texas official has confirmed were never actually locked.
One officer has told reporters that within minutes of the police response, there was a Halligan bar, which firefighters use to break down locked doors, on-site, but it was never used.
At a special State Senate committee hearing Monday, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw called the police response an “abject failure” and “antithetical to everything we’ve learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre.”
“The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from (entering rooms) 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children,” he said. “The officers have weapons, the children had none.”