I’m going to be upfront about this.
I think Lady Vols is a stupid name for a sports team in 2016.
Yes, if you’re a Vols fan you probably want to throw rotten fruit right about now. But I won’t apologize.
I feel the same about Lady Bobcats, Lady Patriots, Lady Rebels and Lady Trojans. The situation gets downright laughable when, we see Lady Rams, Lady Stallions, and God forbid, Lady Beavers and Lady Cocks. No joke, these are for real.
There’s been a bit of a ruckus in the Tennessee state legislature about this “issue.” Frankly, I’d rather they talk about how they’re using my tax dollar than try to force a sports team to remain in the Dark Ages of team nomenclature, but I don’t set the agenda in Nashville.
If you’re not from East Tennessee, you might not realize that the Lady Vols are a beloved institution here. The University of Tennessee women’s basketball team, headed for many moons by local celebrity and beloved coach Pat Summitt, has more national championships than you can shake a stick at. In some people’s eyes, the women’s basketball team ranks higher than UT football, and that’s saying something.
But the name Lady Vols has outlived its usefulness, and in my not-so-humble opinion, the whining from Nashville is nothing but pointless nostalgia from a bunch of fossils. They’ll no doubt call my complaint feminist rage from a no-count whippersnapper. Oh, well. Maybe it is.
But seriously, y’all. Aren’t the women just as much Vols as the guys? Why do they need to have a different name? Why should they sound like a ladies auxiliary, those wives who show up and cook for the club but can’t be members on their own?
At Shopper-News, we never did call them Lady Vols, Lady Panthers or Lady Devils. They were UT women’s basketball, or just plain Vols on the second mention. Or the Panthers softball team. Or the volleyball Red Devils.
My former boss, a woman way ahead of her time, instituted that rule and defended it come hell or high water. Her point: equal people don’t get special treatment. Especially when you’re talking about athletes as successful and dedicated as the female wing of Vols basketball, the term “Lady” is diminutive and patronizing.
Will East Tennessee ever stop saying Lady Vols? Probably not. It’s ingrained in our lingo, perhaps for good. But is a sports uniform such a big deal that we have to waste legislative time on it?
Can’t we just let Vols be Vols?