Should Women’s Collegiate Sports Teams Use “Lady” in Their Nicknames?

LadyVolsNearly 100 colleges and universities who are members of the National Collegiate Athletic Association use the term “Lady” to describe their women’s sports teams. For example at the University of Tennessee, the men’s teams use the nickname “Volunteers.” But the women’s teams have been called the “Lady Volunteers” or “Lady Vols.”

But the university has changed its policy. Now only the women’s basketball team will be known as the “Lady Vols,” while other women’s teams will be referred to at the “Volunteers.” The official university explanation is that the decision was made “to achieve greater brand clarity and consistency and to promote unity within the athletics department.” (The women’s basketball team will keep the Lady Vols nickname to honor legendary coach Pat Summitt.)

ketraArmstrongKetra Armstrong, a professor of sports management at the University of Michigan, told The Tennessean, “I think we need to get away from these labels that inadvertently marginalize different people who participate in sports because of their sexuality or gender. I think it has created this binary: the norm and what’s out of the norm, the good and what’s not so good, this is the real sport and this is the other sport.”

Before joining the faculty at the University of Michigan, Professor Armstrong was the director of the graduate program in sport management at California State University, Long Beach. She holds a Ph.D. from Ohio State University.

Filed Under: Title IXWomen's Studies


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