By Laura Pappano
Here we go – yet again! After a spectacular season (78 straight wins and counting…) and off-season that saw the UConn Women’s Basketball team walking the red carpet at the ESPY Awards and visiting Walter Reed Medical Center and The White House (again), the university’s athletic office is still treating their games like discount fare.
For those who order season tickets for one of the two venues at which the teams play – Gampel Pavilion in Storrs or the XL Center in Hartford – there are discounted prices that are equally insulting: $15 to see the women; $25 to see the men.
It’s tempting to begin a debate about whether any given UConn men’s game is worth $8 or $10 more than any given UConn women’s game.
I say “tempting” because this may be the year to retire the old argument that guys dunking = more entertainment, says who? But then, this year we have the drama of watching an historic run given that the UConn women have just produced back-to-back perfect seasons. Can they keep the streak alive?
Rather than have this debate, however, let’s consider a story this week in USA Today pointing out how much non-athletes are charged to support college sports. At UConn, according to the paper’s analysis, 4.8 percent of student tuition goes to athletics. The point: athletics is not a separate business but part of the university operations and – such charges suggest – a key part of the college experience.
Like it or not, pricing is a signal of status. (Think: pricing and branding of clothes, cars – even food and coffee.) Why should students whose tuition dollars support both men’s and women’s sports help finance a system that treats female athletes as second class?
So here’s a word problem: #23 Maya Moore, also a member of the USA World Championship team,