I hail from Omaha, Nebraska—a city known for little besides an exotic zoo and the baseball event of the year. Because of my propinquity to the men’s College World Series and my long-time engagement in softball, every year I play a disappointing game of “spot the difference” between men’s and women’s amenities at both events.
Right off the bat, I can say that Omaha takes great pride in the services and venue it provides the men’s teams. The College World Series (CWS) spans nearly two weeks, ensuring athletes get ample rest between playing. In addition, Omaha provides top-notch facilities which include pristine locker rooms with showers, messages, and celebratory dinners. In stark contrast, the Women’s College World Series (WCWS)—note that gender is only used in the official title of the softball tournament—in Oklahoma City barely lasts a full week. Softball teams frequently play double headers while baseball teams never do. In 2021, a rain delay at the softball tournament caused a game to be pushed back until midnight, meaning the game didn’t end until 2 A.M. Those players woke up the next morning at seven to play more softball with barely any rest. On top of that, the Oklahoma locker rooms do not have showers or any of the other aforementioned accommodations that the men’s teams have.
There are pellucid differences between the CWS and the WCWS, but many critics say it’s because baseball and softball are inherently different. Mainly, softballs are larger than baseballs, and a softball field is much smaller than a baseball field. Consequently, people claim softball is the easier sport. Regardless, how difficult a sport is should have no correlation to the treatment players receive, but if there is any doubt on that, let’s take a moment to debunk the theory that baseball requires more skill. Most pitchers in the WCWS pitch around seventy miles per hour from sixty feet away. Therefore, a batter has 0.35 seconds to decide whether or not to swing. In contrast, most pitchers in the CWS throw around ninety miles per hour from ninety feet away. Thus, baseball batters have 0.44 seconds to react. The same math corresponds with the amount of time softball players have to react to a ball in play and throw out a batter. Therefore, if there is any data comparing the two sports, it shows that softball is more difficult. Second, many cite the fact that the CWS is more popular than the WCWS as the reason the teams lack amenities, but that is also spurious. This year, the WCWS had an average of over 1.2 million viewers per game—much higher than the men’s average 755 thousand viewers per game.
Because of the popularity of the WCWS, young softball players around the nation watch it every year and cannot help but notice the inequalities female athletes endure. Unless remedied, this will continue to harm the college athletes giving everything they’ve got to the sport, and it will damage the confidence of those who look up to them. Because, if the nation isn’t ready to take the our best softball players seriously, how will young players without the same prowess take themselves seriously?
Leonhardt, David. “Messages for Men, Doubleheaders for Women.” The New York Times. The New York Times. 4 June 2021., https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/04/briefing/college-sports gender-inequality.html.