Lady Rams? Hey, Ewes!s

This was published on my blog on Thursday, March 31, 2005. The four teams mentioned in the first paragraph were in the Women's Final Four.

So it's come down to the Lady Vols, the Lady Spartans, the Lady Bears, or the Lady Tigers. That's pretty sad.

No, I don't mean the teams or players. I mean the names.

The standard way of giving a name to a women's team is to stick the word "Lady" in front of the name of the men's teams. But trying to feminize the name for the men's team is usually a total failure, and it's often downright ludicrous.

I mean, the Lady Minutemen? Give me a break. I see a bunch of guys, led by Harvey Fierstein, sashaying toward Lexington in their petticoats. Sorry, that doesn't work. Minute Ladies is almost as bad and Minute Maids, perhaps the best alternative, is too blatantly commercial.

Then there are such other absurdities as the Lady Cavaliers, the Lady Statesmen, the Lady Lord Jeffs, and—don't think about this one for too long—the Lady Eph-men.

Perhaps the worst, or at least the silliest, of all is at the schools where the men's team is called the Rams. The Lady Rams? Personally, I prefer the Hey, Ewes!

At the many schools with animal nicknames, the female form of the name may be acceptable. Or maybe not. Tigresses isn't too terrible, nor is Lionesses, but we are trying to get away from those "ess" feminine endings, aren't we? And, if the men's team is called the Foxes, do the women really want to be the Vixens? I doubt it.

Rather than sticking with the male "Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my" method of naming teams, I'd like to see women's teams get their own names.

One possibility is to name teams for pioneers such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, or Lucretia Mott. (But not, I think, Elizabeth Arden or Martha Stewart.)

I've long admired the French for putting writers, rather than presidents or statesmen, on their currency. With that thought in mind, some teams might be named for Amy Lowell, Willa Cather, Ellen Glasgow, Toni Morrison, or even Jane Austen. (She's one of my personal favorites, by the way, and she did play baseball and cricket as a girl.)

And, of course, some women athletes of the past deserve to be honored by those of the present. I think the Billie Jeans has a nice sound to it as a team name. The Wilma Rudolphs isn't so bad, either. And how about the Patty Bergs (could be a nice McDonald's tie-in there), the Alice Marbles, the Nancy Liebermans, or, simply, the Blazes (for Carol "Blaze" Blazejowski).

Unfortunately, the greatest of them all would probably have to be left out, because I don't think the "Babes" would go over too well.

You may object that such names are too long. The Nebraska Willa Cathers does have a few too many syllables, perhaps. But it's not much longer than the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and it's shorter than the Purdue Boilermakers, the UNLV Runnin' Rebels, and the Central Florida Fighting Flamingos.

It seems to me that fans and headline writers would soon shorten such names to more acceptable forms that would become immediately recognizable, and would still carry overtones of the original. For example:

Willas Edge Austens, 72-71

Billie Jeans Whip LMotts

Tonis Bow to CStantons

After all, sports fans know who the Chisox and Bosox are, and they recognize Bucs as the short form of both the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. These things come in time and, in fact, usually in a rather short time.

If we go farther back in history, and even farther back to mythology, there are some good one-word names for women's teams.

For example, the Boadiceas, for the queen of the ancient Britons; the Zenobias, for the warrior queen of Palmyra; the Minervas, the Aphrodites, and the Demeters.

Or, to make the headline writers happy, some shorter ones: The Heras, the Junos, the Athenas, and the Freyas.

In short, I'm looking forward to the day when the Boston Boadiceas and the Anaheim Heras play for the championship in—what else?—the World Ceres.