An NPR member station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

As The NCAA Tournament Starts, The Men's And Women's Bubbles Look A Bit... Different


The pandemic-bubble versions of the NCAA basketball tournament kick off this week. Men's teams are in Indianapolis, while women's teams are in San Antonio.


Players and coaches have been posting photos of their new tournament homes to social media, and for some, looking closely, it's become clear that the men's facilities are much nicer.

CHANTEL JENNINGS: The women had six sets of barbells, 10 yoga mats - which I'd like to note is not even enough for a full team to do yoga together - and then one stationary bike. And I think it's important to remember that these are elite athletes.

CHANG: What? That's Chantel Jennings. She covers women's basketball at The Athletic. She's keeping tabs on the differences between the tournaments.

JENNINGS: The men sort of have this long buffet of food. And in the women's NCAA tournament manual, it was very explicit that there would be no buffets. It was boxed meals, 100%, all the way. There is no outdoor space for the women. The men have a baseball field that is near where they're playing and where they're living, where they're kind of able to go and stretch their legs and get fresh air. The women don't have that.

CORNISH: Glenn Cain is in the San Antonio bubble. He's the director of strength and conditioning for the Rutgers women's basketball team. He says as long as the amenities are equal for teams within the same tournament, it's fair, but still, the equipment isn't enough for his team to play its best.

GLENN CAIN: If we're talking about trying to maximize their athletic performance on the court, what we have is certainly not adequate, for sure.

CHANG: The Rutgers men's team also made their tournament.

CAIN: I did have some conversations with our men's basketball team, and it certainly was a little bit different or a lot different from what - you know, what we have going on over here in San Antonio.

CHANG: For Jennings at The Athletic, differences between how the NCAA manages men's versus women's sports are especially clear this season.

JENNINGS: In a typical NCAA tournament season, the first few games are hosted on campuses, and so any sort of difference in accommodations is kind of the fault, if you want to call it that, of the college campus. But right now, creating a bubble tournament, the buck stops at the NCAA.

CORNISH: Bubble or not, Cain says his team is happy to be playing post-season basketball.

CAIN: We've earned the opportunity to play the game. Anything else that comes with it is just a bonus.

CORNISH: Rutgers will take on BYU on Monday. Meanwhile, the NCAA has said it's working to, quote, "enhance existing resources at practice courts."