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Column: Some schools cling to antiquated female nicknames


Column: Some colleges cling to antiquated feminine nicknames

Amazingly, that is nonetheless a factor as we start the third decade of the 21st century.

A handful of schools, most notably the second-ranked girls’s basketball workforce within the nation, refuse to let go of antiquated nicknames that adorn their feminine applications.

Usually, it includes the phrase “Lady” caught in entrance of the varsity’s foremost nickname, as is the case with the No. 2 Baylor Lady Bears, the reigning nationwide champions..

Some colleges are much more out of contact.

At Mississippi Valley State, the boys’s groups are referred to as the Delta Devils. The girls’s squads are saddled with the Devilettes, which sounds extra just like the backup singers for a 1950s rock ‘n’ roll band than a bunch of intercollegiate athletes in immediately’s world.



Or how about Central Arkansas, which is maybe finest referred to as Scottie Pippen’s alma mater? Their male nickname is the Bears, which might work simply nice for both se-x, however the girls’s groups are referred to as the Sugar Bears.

Now, perhaps the varsity simply wished to honor the small, unique marsupial that obtained its identify from having a candy tooth. There’s a a lot better probability, nonetheless, that some administrator – we’re guessing a person – thought it was a cute solution to indicate that feminine athletes are far more dainty than their male counterparts.

Well, it’s time for this sexist observe to take its rightful place within the waste bin of historical past, although we’ll acknowledge there could be a number of exceptions that require extra vigorous debate.

The NCAA may – and will – pace the method alongside, simply because it did in largely ridding the school panorama of monikers that have been offensive to many Native Americans.

This challenge has struck a nerve with me since I first reported on it some three many years in the past, spurred on by the actions of Becky Hopf.

As a member of Alabama’s sports activities data employees, Hopf took it upon herself to begin referring to the ladies’s basketball workforce because the Crimson Tide slightly than the Lady Tide, receiving loads of hate mail from followers who felt offended {that a} feminine workforce would dare stake declare to the soccer workforce’s storied nickname.

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey has lengthy defended her program’s distinctive nickname, which actually hasn’t been a drag on the workforce’s success. The Lady Bears have gained three nationwide titles over the previous eight seasons and are positioned to make a run for an additional championship.

Mulkey says any opposition to the varsity’s nickname is basically a cultural challenge. She grew up in Louisiana and performed at Louisiana Tech, one of many early powerhouses in girls’s basketball. The college carved out an id separate from the boys’s groups (referred to as the Bulldogs) by adopting the nickname Lady Techsters (which stays to at the present time).

“We’re from the South,” Mulkey advised USA Today in 2012. “And ‘Lady’ is not offensive to anybody who lives in our area of the country.”

Jason Cook, who’s Baylor’s vice chairman of promoting, mentioned Friday there was no sentiment throughout the administration or from the fan base to even contemplate dropping “Lady” from the moniker.

“The Lady Bears simply represents the longstanding tradition of excellence by our women’s basketball team,” Cook mentioned in a phone interview.

The challenge stirred up loads of debate a number of years in the past when Tennessee, lengthy one of many nation’s prime girls’s groups underneath the late Pat Summitt, moved to scrap the Lady Volunteers nickname and a model that even included a separate emblem for the vastly profitable program.

Facing livid opposition that stretched all the best way to the state Legislature, John Currie backed off the concept after taking up as athletic director in 2017. He decreed that each one feminine groups, not simply the basketball program, may use the Lady Vols nickname once more in the event that they wished – and all rapidly jumped again on board.

It was simply the preferred transfer Currie made throughout his transient, divisive tenure in Knoxville.

“That’s their name, that’s their brand,” Mollie DeLozier, a Tennessee alumnus who helped lead the struggle to revive the Lady Vols nickname, mentioned Friday. “The fact that it uses the word ‘Lady’ in it, I don’t know why that should matter. That’s how they are known. That’s how they made their reputation. Why would you do away with something that has done nothing but bring accolades to the university and the state?”

DeLozier mentioned she may perceive the opposition to female-oriented nicknames at colleges that deal with girls as second-rate athletes. But, she mentioned, that’s by no means been the case at Tennessee.

“The only thing I have attached to that name is pride,” DeLozier mentioned. “Pride in the program. Pride in the name. Pride in the history. I don’t want to lose that.”

There’s an analogous sentiment at Georgia, the place the Lady Bulldogs girls’s program has been far more profitable through the years than their male counterparts, the Bulldogs.

“Georgia Lady Bulldog basketball is a distinct national brand that began with coach Andy Landers, Teresa Edwards, Katrina McClain, Janet Harris and all those great teams that built this into that national brand.,” athletic director Greg McGarity mentioned ”When folks hear the time period Lady Bulldogs, they mechanically recall the good historical past and pleasure of this program.”

If the NCAA ever does develop a spine on this challenge, it’d have to insert a waiver that enables colleges equivalent to Tennessee and Baylor and Louisiana Tech to exhibit how their nicknames have really helped to develop girls’s sports activities and are worthy of a historic cross.

There is one other perplexing query: What about these applications which have male-specific nicknames?

For occasion, Oklahoma State is amongst a number of colleges referred to as Cowboys on the boys’s aspect, Cowgirls on the ladies’s aspect. UMass goes with the Revolutionary War moniker “Minutemen” for its male groups, whereas the feminine squads are – you guessed it – the Minutewomen.

As with most points, there have to be some wiggle room.

But the overwhelming majority of those nicknames are archaic holdovers from an period when girls’s sports activities would settle for any slight to get observed.

Those days, fortunately, are over.

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Paul Newberry is a sports activities columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at)ap.org or at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 His work could be discovered at https://apnews.com

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More AP faculty basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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