Monday, March 31, 2014

Equality brackets

At the start of this year's March Madness, Mother Jones published a men's bracket that determined winners based on the spending each school does on women's sports as a percentage of men's sports.  They asked the big what-if: does spending more on women's sports lead to tournament success?
American University came out the winner (116%) barely beating out cross-town rival George Washington; and Stanford was the best in the BCS (63%).
I'm not sure if Mother Jones was attempting a correlation here. If so, there was no argument to that effect. But it does raise an interesting question about whether spending on women's sports can also be beneficial to men's teams. We would have to approach this question with a paradigm based in social sciences and cultural studies research over a purely economic model and look at factors such as athletic department unity, the effect of perceived fairness, level of sex segregation across athletics departments, etc.
What I was curious about was why there was not a women's bracket that shows the same figures. This would allow those who enjoy some quantitative with their qualitative to examine the outcomes when the tournament has concluded.

Other imaginary brackets that are produced at this time of the year includes ones that use APR to consider the relationship of academic success with sport success. The APR, Academic Progress Rate, was established by the NCAA in 2004 and is calculated for Division I institutions. The academic progress of scholarship athletes is calculated on a team. That team's APR must meet an NCAA established minimum in order for--in part--the team to compete in post-season play.
The APR was created and is maintained to address issues of athlete education.

Here's the imaginary bracket I would like to see. Actually, scratch that. What I would like to see is a real commitment to gender equity by the NCAA comparable to the one it has made to the education of student athletes. How about post-season play based on Title IX compliance? It seems like such a swing back from where the NCAA is now given that the organization is no longer engaging in accreditation (which included an assessment of gender equity). How would such a system affect the real brackets?