In sports, it doesn’t matter which sex you are. It doesn’t matter what gender you identify as.

Whether in men’s or women’s athletics, it only matters that you be at your peak fitness level to both perform and avoid injury. For your body to be fully prepared for the demand of athletic competition, access to adequate strength and conditioning equipment is absolutely necessary.

Unfortunately, in light of the recently leaked images showing the differences between the men’s and women’s weight rooms in the NCAA March Madness Tournament bubbles, it is clear that the NCAA still has a way to go in reaching equality between male and female athletes.

The rigors and demands of Division 1 women’s athletics are no joke,” explains Tiffany Pan, M.D., an elbow, hand, and wrist specialist and former collegiate club hockey player. “Without a proper strength and conditioning program that includes usage of the same equipment available to the men’s teams, female athletes will be at a greater risk for serious injury.

Female athletes do not have fewer weight-training requirements just because they are women. Female athletes are more prone to ACL injuries compared to male athletes. It is crucial for female athletes to exercise the muscles that support the knees in the front and back of their thighs (quadriceps and hamstrings). Access to a squat rack for female college athletes is essential.

An athlete isn’t defined by gender. An athlete is a person who excels at sports and physical exercise. “The health of our muscles, ligaments, bones, tendons, and nerves for all human beings is dependent upon a well-balanced diet, a solid sleep schedule, and a workout routine, especially for athletes performing at high levels such as Division 1 basketball,” remarks Anita Vijapura, M.D., a physiatrist and interventional pain management specialist. “Male or female, a dumbbell rack alone isn’t going to cut it for college athletes.”

OrthoVirginia urges the NCAA to treat men's and women's athletics equally, including giving them the same resources for training and conditioning. NCAA—we ask you to be better.