Fourth

The last year has shown us that even the madness of March is relative.

Take a look at the Sweet 16 and you will not only see some teams you don’t see there often but as a result, you’ll likely notice some big time programs missing.

For example, my beloved Tar Heels were sent back home quickly by Wisconsin, thereby ending what has been a challenging season.

No UNC, Duke or UVa. Instead it’s Florida State and Syracuse advancing from the ACC.

I’d be embarrassed for the ACC more if the Big Ten hadn’t sent nine of its 16 members to the tournament only to have just one remaining.

Leave it up to the Big Ten to simultaneously reveal both how overrated their basketball reputation is while displaying how underreported their race issues are.

I can’t make fun of the ACC and the Big Ten without giving some kudos to the Pac-12.

I don’t know of anyone, personally or in media, that thought PAC-12 institutions would make up a quarter of the schools in the Sweet 16.

While this tournament may not have many of the big blue programs or top tier teams that traditionally tend to attract things like attention and viewers, Mark Emmert and the NCAA have certainly made up for it in bad publicity with their handling of the women’s tournament.

Some say all publicity is good publicity, but I think history has proven that’s not true.

The videos and pictures depicting the difference in accommodations, meals and facilities provided to male and female student athletes playing basketball in the NCAA tournament is embarrassing.

Credit should be given when due and Dick’s Sporting Goods stepped up to offer truckloads of equipment for athletes to use during the tournament and, after some bad publicity, the training and workout facilities for females literally improved overnight.

Still, I don’t understand how in 2021, this continues to happen.

At what point do organizations like the NCAA look around and realize that they desperately need to diversify their decision makers to avoid these kinds of blind spots? The NCAA has done wonderful things to promote women’s rights but there’s room for improvement and at this time, it’s more important to demonstrate equality than to make commercials about it.

David Friedman is a long time sports writer and lifelong believer that BLM. David can be reached via e-mail at fourthandlongcolumn@gmail.com.

Thadd White is Editor of the Bertie Ledger-Advance and can be reached via email at twhite@ncweeklies.com.