The Baylor Lady Bears women’s basketball team made an emphatic statement last week. Don’t call us “Lady” Bears, they essentially said. From now on, they will be referred to as the Bears, which falls in line with the way the other Baylor teams are identified.
“While the use of Lady Bears is still very much a part of the program’s decorated history, in an effort to be more consistent with the current nomenclature of the other 18 Baylor sport programs, the team will now be referred to as simply the Bears.” Via ESPN.com
It’s hard not to think of Space Jam I, where Lola Bunny and Bugs Bunny find themselves on the practice court. Lola proceeds to dismantle Bugs on the floor, proving that she was the superior player. Later in the movie, as the Toon Squad is playing the Monstars, one of the gargantuan opponents underestimates her skill set, and she scores on him.
In both instances, Lola was called “doll” by Bugs and the Monstars players. Promptly after scoring on them, she infamously says “don’t ever call me doll.”
While the Baylor Bears play in real life society, there’s something to be said for the way language used in reference to women’s basketball makes it seem different, or even less important than the product of their male counterparts. Inserting the “Lady” pre-fix in front of a college sports nickname serves as a gender differentiator, but can also serve to take the sting out of a nickname.
There is always two sides to every story, and multiple ways to interpret language though. Other groups want to see the “Lady” based nicknames remain a part of college sports, especially for programs who have storied traditions. University of Tennessee alum Mollie DeLozier believes that there’s nothing wrong with calling the women’s basketball team the Lady Volunteers.
“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?” she wondered. Via USA Today
As the lexicon of society continues to evolve and change with the times, we can expect to see more tweaks and adjustments to sports nicknames over the next decade or so.