Since the Colorado State softball team’s protest last month, talks have started about what CSU could do for the softball team and other women’s teams in terms of facilities. It has been kind, but slow. No visible changes have been made. CSU needs to be responding to issues of inequality for the softball team and other women’s sports faster, for fairness and competitiveness’ sake.
Far too often, legitimate complaints are met with the ideas that, “things take time,” or “things cost money.” Those things are always true, but not always valid excuses. They are especially illegitimate when CSU is trying to improve its national standing through athletics, and our female athletes have not seen significant change in decades. As much as this a women’s issue, it is also a competitive issue.
“I think we’re limited to the basic equipment,” former CSU softball player Taylor Hutton said. “We get what we need, but overall I think women’s sports could use a little more support in that area so we can be the best that we can be.”
Throughout its coverage, the women on the softball team have constantly mentioned their competitiveness as a main concern. When the original protest took place, on a snowy day in April, the complaints revolved around having the means to be competitive, not about being wet and cold. These women are not seeking any more than their male counterparts. They just want the facilities that will help make them competitive. Aside from matching the men’s facilities, CSU is not matching other women’s programs.
“They don’t need their own (Indoor Practice Facility),” softball player Danni Klein’s father David Klein said. “But these facilities need to be updated … We see these stadiums that San Jose State, Fresno State, and San Diego State have … Our field looks like a (recreation) field.”
Klein’s mother, Christy Klein, interjected at that point to speak about one of the most ridiculous aspects among the softball teams complaints.
“Why don’t we even have lights?” Christy Klein said. “We can’t finish our games, that kind of needs to be addressed.”
As evidenced by CSU’s recent bid to join the Big 12 and the $220 million on-campus stadium among other things, it is clear CSU’s been making a push to put itself on a bigger athletic stage. The main motivation for that is money, so if it takes money to make money, and they are spending a ton of money already, than why are they allowing their team lose games do to lack of lights?
CSU should be focused on other areas of strength besides the football team, who has shown promise, but never really proven itself elite. We could be building up our women’s sports programs, some of which are already very strong. The softball team has received votes for the AP top-25 for much of the season.
While sports like softball, tennis and swimming probably will not ever bring in large amounts of revenue compared to football, the strongest teams in any D-1 sport increase a school’s profile, and in turn, increase the school’s ability to make money and the chances that CSU will be in a power five conference eventually.
With that in mind, the relatively small amount it would cost to give the team field lighting, covered batting cages, and access to an indoor facility, is not much of an excuse. Time cannot be an excuse either, because these problems are long-standing and slow to change.
“We didn’t even have a field on campus,” former softball player Christine Hutton said. “We didn’t have anywhere to practice … and if we had to go inside, we used the intramural gym.”
Christine Hutton graduated in 1990 and has seen three of her girls play at CSU. In that time, there could have been a solution found so the softball team did not have to have practice on hardwood floors, as the team still sometimes resorts to. Especially with the IPF in place, it would not take much more than creativity and cooperation to solve that particular issue.
“It’s a lot of coordination between all the different teams,” Christine Hutton said. “But during the spring it’s not football season, it’s softball and soccer and whatever else is going on and I think some respect needs to be given to those teams and their time”
A little respect and upgrades that should cost around $100,000, are all it would take to ensure that the softball team can practice and play regardless of the weather, and show that the university cares about its women’s teams and their competitiveness. Other teams, like the swim team and soccer team, have similar complaints that should not break the bank for such a major university. Problems that have gone on too long to say it is going to take time.
“I think the time is now,” senior Taylor Hutton said. “If we want to go somewhere with these women’s sports, we have to do something about it and bring more people in, and I think new and updated facilities will do that.”
CSU could cover the batting cages in the span of a day, an incredibly small amount of student tuition could cover lights, and it should not take decades to build a facility or figure out a schedule for the ones you do have that work for everybody. Time and money are not excuses. Much talk, without action in a situation like this, is just throwing a dog a bone.
Mack Beaulieu is a sports reporter for the collegian that can be reached at email@example.com or on twitter @Macknz_James