Christine Brennan, “Gender distinctions confine women’s basketball to 2nd-class status”

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In a recent column, Christine Brennan wrote:

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.” …

Read the entire column here. Via The Dees Diversion.

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0 Responses to Christine Brennan, “Gender distinctions confine women’s basketball to 2nd-class status”

  1. Joseph Slater says:

    My sister played basketball for Oberlin College way back in the 1980s (when I was there too). Oberlin’s teams were (and, I believe, still are) called the Yeomen. It was a problem. “Lady Yeomen” makes no sense, and Oberlin had too much of a feminist sensibility to use “Lady” anyway. But “Yeomen” itself sounds inherently male. My sister and her team-mates started referring to themselves as the “Yo-mamas,” but I don’t think there’s been an official solution.

  2. Ann Bartow says:

    Ha! Your sister sounds like she has your excellent (and slightly warped) sense of homur, which I of course mean as a compliment! Of course, the name “Lady Cocks” (South Carolina) is sort of amusing in a slightly twisted way too…