When I set out to talk about the coverage of the NDHSAA state basketball tournament, it was to shed light on the inequality of our female athletes. It was to show that our girls deserve equal footing on whatever venture that they choose to pursue. It was to honor The Huskies, The Patriots, The Eagles, The Demons, The Rough Riders, The Mustangs, The Majettes, and The Sabers.
The reality is that these athletes are the leaders of their community. These athletes have little girls who will one day pick up a basketball because of them, which is a beautiful thing that helps grow the sport. Why would anyone want to stand in the way of that?
But I feel as though the focus has shifted a little, and I don’t want to lose focus of the seminal point here.
Whatever happens for the boys’ tournament, happens to the girls’ tournament. Equality.
– If the boys are televised, then girls should be as well.
– If the boys have a chance at the main court one year, then the girls should have a chance at the main court the following year.
– It is about equality, pure and simple.
I’ve had so many awesome conversations this past weekend. I’ve spoken to Dom Izzo, I’ve spoken to the NDHSAA Board of Directors, I’ve spoken to countless members of the basketball community and media. The crazy thing there are things we can all agree on:
– When the media rights contract was signed 4-5 years ago, streaming was not a consideration, it was a relatively new technology.
– The contract is for coverage of the girls’ and boys’ semifinal and final rounds of the tournament (both to be covered equally). WDAY has exclusive rights to the entire tournament, so any additional coverage by WDAY goes above and beyond the contract.
I’m order for WDAY to pay for the above and beyond service, someone has to pay for it.
– Since the new technologies are tried and tested, it is imperative that the contract is renegotiated to ensure equal coverage. I believe that happens next year.
So there’s a start, we can agree on those things, but, realistically, it is simply not good enough. We need change.
There is enough fault to go around. We can play the blame game all we want, but here are the facts:
– Shame on the parents (myself included) for accepting the status quo and not challenging companies and entities who play into these inequalities; this has been going on for a while and we know better!
– Shame on advertisers for throwing money at entities and organizations and not educating themselves on the workings of equality in production. They know better.
– Shame on the media for not asking the hard questions and uncovering the truth about what was happening. You know better.
– Shame on the NDHSAA for not protecting our female athletes, which is one of the sole purposes of your organization. You know better.
This is on all of us.
Let me be clear:
This is not about the streaming glitches,
This is not about viewership,
This is not about money,
This is not about me,
This is not about basketball
This is not about my beloved Huskies.
This is about access,
This is about equal protection.
This is about representation.
This is about equality.
We can fix this!