Use of "Lady" in Sports Team Nicknames

Some questions about the use of the prefix “Lady” for women’s sports teams.

  1. Why? Were people worried that if you didn’t specify “Lady Knights Softball”, fans might think they were going to see the Men’s Softball team and claim false advertising?
  2. Is the use of the “Lady” prefix decreasing? Have any schools gone gender neutral, i.e. all teams are now simply referred to as the “Bulldogs” or the “War Eagles”?
  3. Any favorites for the strangest resulting nickname when using the “Lady” prefix?
  4. Has the reverse situation occurred, i.e. an all-women college or high school goes co-ed and the new men’s teams are named the “Gentlemen Violets”?

[li]There are several sports where there are both male and female teams. You don’t hear it for cheerleading.[/li][li]No clue. But that latter would seem odd unless they both had separate maskots. You don’t want two teams with the same name.[/li][li]The first one that came to my head were the Lady Bulls.[/li]Well, usually the opposite of Ladies’ is Guys’ in this context, but I’ve never heard of it as an official name. But I’m not that well acquainted with sports.[/ol]

The U of Hawaii’s ladies’ volleyball team takes it a step further. They’re called the Wahines. Wahine is Hawaiian for “lady” or “woman.”

It could have evolved as a succinct way of writing sports headlines. Equality or not, the assumption when you read “Hornets Defeat Otters” on the sports page is that the headline is referring to the men’s team. “Lady Hornets Defeat Otters” makes it clear you are talking about the women’s team without making it much longer.

(Of course, male hornets are drones, but let’s not go there.)

I was in grad school at the University of Florida in the late 1990s, and the school newspaper had an article about this issue. The athletic department officially lists the women’s teams as the Gators, which is what the women athletes by and large want. The athletic department will not use the term “Lady Gator” in any official press release. The school will, however, sell Lady Gator apparel because a lot of people want to buy that, and the school would be silly not to sell people what they want.

Another wonderful headline: Husky Women Subdue Ducks.

I can see the benefit to the headline writer, but that presupposes that the headline style came first and then the schools adopted the “Lady” prefix as the official nickname for the teams.

My gut says it was the other way around.

Yeah, it sounds vaguely silly and misogynistic to me. Women’s varsity teams here are the Lady Govs (the namesake was a state governor). Would you address a female governor as Lady Governor _____?

If you don’t like the prefix “Lady” It would seem like it would be a lot less confusing to just pick a different name for each. there’s a significant difference in the levels of play, and it can get pretty aggravating when you think you’re reading about the Pitt game, and you all of a sudden find that “Mary” scored the last basket.

And, yes, I’m a male chauvinist when it comes to watching women play sports; Other than beach volleyball of course. :slight_smile:


Centenary College, of course–the Lady Gentlemen! (Or Lady Gents for short.)

At my college the guys were the “Lords” so the ladies were just the “Ladies.”

Blackburn College. Mascot: The Beaver

Nitpick from a fan: Technically all the women’s teams are the Rainbow Wahine, as the men’s teams are the Rainbow Warriors (except the football team, which officially thinks the rainbow part is too gay, and didn’t like the nickname 'Bows). No “s” on the Hawaiian plural.

Go Wahine!

I went to Humboldt State University in Northern California… Lady Lumberjacks (not Lumberjills)

It’s common, though. For example, at Virginia Tech all the men’s and women’s teams, in all sports, are officially “the Hokies,” though you’ll see “Lady Hokies” from time to time informally. Sports writers have been known to add it to news items to make the immediate distinction.

By contrast, at the University of Tennessee the women’s teams are officially “Lady Vols.” They are never just “Vols.”

Cute idea, but the way they do it makes more sense, since “jack” isn’t a name in this case.

I present to you the Mishawaka High School Lady Cavemen.

My cousin went to Amherst College in Massachusetts, home of the Lord Jeffs. And the Lady Jeffs.

btw, no one did this at my undergrad, because no one there cares about athletics, and being a slug is already silly enough. I can’t recall hearing this at my grad school, although I suppose it’s possible. I’m sure that Lady Wolverines are very delicate and well-mannered creatures in the wild.

Ah, yes. I remember now. Never been a sports fan at all myself, so I never followed any of them. But I’ll still say: “Go Wahine!” :smiley:

In my entire time at Michigan I don’t think I ever heard the Term “Lady Wolverines”. Whether it is out of political correctness, or the absurd image of one of the little monsters in white gloves sipping tea that it creates, I can’t say.