The other night at the women’s Final Four, the Lady Vols won and the Lady Tigers lost. Earlier in the tournament, the Lady Rebels, Lady Bears and Lady Wolfpack bowed out. The Lady Buffs, Lady Gamecocks, Lady Raiders and Lady Toppers didn’t make the NCAAs this year. Back in the 1980s, the Lady Techsters ruled women’s basketball. Once upon a time, there even was a team known as the Lady Gents. As far as we know, however, there’s never been a team called the Lady Ladies.
t’s the strangest tradition left in women’s sports, this lingering need to add an unnecessary adjective to the school nickname. It comes from another place and time, yet it somehow remains – at least for a few dozen schools, mostly in the South, that somehow cannot see just how demeaning one little word can be.
“On the surface, it seems like a small issue,” said Women’s Sports Foundation President Aimee Mullins, “but it’s symptomatic of a larger pattern of women’s programs being viewed as the stepchild of the men’s programs. Because men’s teams were in place years before women’s teams, some women’s programs did this to differentiate between the two programs, but I think it’s passe now.”These programs are not spinoffs of the men’s programs. It demeans the seriousness of the women’s program to use the term ‘lady.’ These women train the same hours. It’s not a cute pursuit. But the ‘lady’ aspect makes it seem like that. It’s a little bit patronizing, I think.”
To be sure, most college programs have dropped the word “Lady,” or never started using it. In the Big Ten, only Penn State uses the antiquated term, and there’s hope the Nittany Lions will move into the 21st century after last month’s resignation of long-time women’s basketball coach Rene Portland.
When Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer arrived in New Jersey 12 years ago, she immediately removed the “Lady” from Scarlet Knights.
“I understand that that’s something more regional or Southern,” Stringer said. “And with all due respect, I just believe that basketball is basketball and you don’t need to make a distinction. … I think that it’s time to just drop the ‘lady’ thing. Let’s play basketball.” …