The Las Vegas Invitational debacle continues to show the divide in the treatment of men’s and women’s athletics
"The women's game, just we are always looked down upon just as women. Period."
MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) — Ten Division I women’s basketball programs from around the nation, including 5th ranked Indiana University and the Mercer Bears, gathered at the Mirage Hotel and Casino for the Las Vegas Invitational, looking to get a few quality games in during the Thanksgiving Break. They got the gameplay, but the rest was far from quality.
“The women’s game, just we are always looked down upon just as women. Period. So there were some things that went wrong, but we just focused on what we came to do,” said Mercer guard Amoria Neal-Tysor.
Teams were promised a layout similar to what the professional Athletes Unlimited women’s basketball competition used earlier this year at the Sports Center of Las Vegas, but instead, the teams were provided with just a court and some chairs.
“They did send us a contract, and it had a picture of what the arena was going to look like, and they did not meet that at all, obviously. We would not have said, okay, let’s go play in a conference room,” said Mercer head coach Susie Gardner.
Just last year, the NCAA officially branded the women’s basketball national tournament as March Madness in an effort to propel the women’s game forward, yet, this weekend, it seemed like the NCAA had taken a step backward.
“That falls on the leadership, which in most cases leadership is going to make or break whatever the situation is. Hopefully, lessons were learned, and other folks that want to have tournaments throughout the country will step up and do the right thing,” said Gardner.
There were several other issues at the tournament, which can be seen circulating all over social media, but the SoCon Pre-season Player of the Year understands the importance of the platform she and others like her have.
“There are people watching. There are always people watching and little ones who are looking to be inspired by us. Just going and being as positive as we can, but as well as looking forward and trying to build our women’s game,” said Neal-Tysor.