For many years here on Uni Watch, if a men’s college basketball team got a new uniform, that news would appear in the Ticker as “New uniforms for Georgia Tech” (or whatever the school might be). Similarly, if a men’s national soccer team got new uniforms, we would usually say, “New kits for Spain” (or whatever). In other words, we treated men’s teams, and men’s sports in general, as the presumptive default.
More recently, that has changed. When writing about college hoops, we now do our best to identify every team as either a men’s or women’s squad, and ditto for every other sport or league that includes men’s and women’s teams.
The person who deserves the credit for that is Jamie Rathjen, who joined the Uni Watch staff in the fall of 2017 and compiles the Tickers that appear on Mondays. A few years ago he began being more scrupulous about including gender distinctions in his Ticker reports and also began privately prompting me to add such distinctions throughout the site. (I’ve gotten much better about this, both in my own copy and when editing everyone else’s copy, but sometimes I forget, so Jamie gently reminds me and I make the needed adjustments to the text.) Jamie also began seeking out more Ticker items about women’s sports and has generally become our de facto advocate for women’s athletics aesthetics.
I recently suggested to Jamie that it might be interesting for him to write a blog post about how he became interested in women’s sports. He agreed, so I’ll hand off the baton to him now. Take it away, Jamie.
How We Talk About Men’s and Women’s Sports
By Jamie Rathjen
Even though I’ve never tested positive for Covid, the pandemic definitely changed one thing for me.
In June 2020, the NWSL was the first U.S. pro sports league to return to action after the start of the pandemic. I was excited, because I’ve been a Washington Spirit fan since 2015. And yet I kept reading articles saying that either baseball (excluding soccer entirely) or MLS (excluding women’s soccer) would be the first to return. I remember the writer of one such article claiming to not know the NWSL even existed.
I thought to myself that Uni Watch could be better than those articles.
Until then, I had never thought of women’s sports as something I could bring to Uni Watch. I was brought on in part because of my knowledge of soccer, and that’s a big subject area in itself, even considering only men’s soccer.
Since then, however, I’ve gradually adjusted my focus. That year, I wrote the first of what has become an annual series of NWSL season previews. And I’ve tried to find more women’s sports items to include in the Ticker. I’ve come to realize that there’s a lot of uni-related material to find in women’s sports, especially if you look outside the U.S., and finding it can diversify the voices represented on the site.
I’ve also tried to help make sure the site is not reporting in a way that excludes or overlooks women. In sports media, this is perhaps most noticeable around the March Madness basketball tournaments. Lots of writers refer to the “NCAA tournament,” when they really mean “men’s NCAA tournament,” which will lead to factual mistakes. For example, when Rutgers made the men’s tournament in 2021 and won a game, there were articles saying it was their first “NCAA tournament” appearance since 1991. This article makes that mistake, and also notes that they ended a 38-year winless drought and that they’d won multiple games only “once in school history.” But none of that was true, because the women’s team appeared in most of the intervening years and won plenty of times. The writer was acting as if women’s basketball didn’t even exist (which, in his mind, perhaps it didn’t).
I never said anything to Paul about what I was doing, but he apparently noticed. In May of last year, he forwarded me an invitation to a Women in Soccer webinar, which I signed up for. One of the featured speakers was USA Today columnist Christine Brennan, who shared an anecdote from her time at The Washington Post in the 1990s. The paper’s golf writer was away covering the men’s U.S. Open, so Brennan asked the sports editor if they were going to cover the women’s U.S. Open going on shortly after.
“Yeah, you’re covering it. You go,” Brennan remembered the editor saying. She said she wished the golf writer had covered it, but she was still was still impressed by how simple the solution had been: “Simply going into the office and just saying ‘Why aren’t we doing this?,’ and all of a sudden, we were doing it,” Brennan said. That reinforced the notion that if I want to see more coverage of women’s sports on Uni Watch, I can make it happen simply by taking the initiative.
I find it really fulfilling to see what I can dig up every week, what stories these women’s teams are trying to tell through their uniforms. If I can contribute a tiny bit to growing these leagues by giving them some extra attention, it feels like progress.
As I’ve followed more women’s leagues, I’ve really become aware of the world-class talent on display. For example, one of the most elusive feelings in soccer is finding a winger who gets you excited every time they touch the ball, and the Spirit have that with Trinity Rodman, who was recently ranked as the best 21-or-under women’s player in the world by ESPN. What blows my mind is that Rodman plays in front of a few thousand people at a time for a team whose season tickets are, I would say, eminently affordable compared to other leagues. How lucky are we that talent like that is so accessible?
One of the most appealing things about women’s sports is a sense of belonging to something that’s getting bigger, because all the leagues have fan bases that just want to see these leagues grow and be successful. So significant milestones grab attention, like FC Barcelona setting the officially known women’s soccer attendance record twice in a few weeks earlier this year, or motorsports’ W Series getting new U.S. and U.K. TV contracts this year to match Formula One’s contracts.
These women’s leagues, and women’s sports in general, have had much less time to develop than the various men’s games. The WNBA began play only 25 years ago and the NWSL in 2013; last week you may have noticed lots of articles marking the 50th anniversary of Title IX; and in England, a total ban on the women’s game from Football Association members’ grounds wasn’t lifted untiol 1971, with the modern Women’s Super League starting in 2011. (To put that in some perspective, when the men’s English Football League started its 12th season in 1899, it was still the late Victorian era and the FA had already been organizing the sport for close to 40 years.)
As I’ve delved more deeply into women’s sports, I’ve noticed that some of the uniforms are patterned after a male counterpart (especially in soccer, because more and more prominent women’s teams are run by clubs with prominent men’s teams) while others aren’t. Either way, though, women’s sports teams tend to make really sensible design decisions. Even when they use bright colors, the uniform doesn’t turn out garish. That’s resulted in some real classics, like some of the 2021 NWSL shirts. Even when a design seems out there, like the WNBA’s Indiana Fever doing a jersey based on Netflix’s Stranger Things, or four women’s cycling teams all ending up with purple and orange jerseys this season, I still tend to like the results.
Women’s teams have also put forth some fresh design perspectives, such as soccer teams using floral patterns, which I think have worked very well. Also, when a women’s team bases its design on what the men’s team wears, they sometimes change something about it to make it distinctive. There are some really good examples of this with Adelaide (the first two of the photos shown below) and Fremantle in AFL Women’s:
While I’ve primarily written about progress in this piece, there is still more to be made. Several big sporting events this summer, like two major “open” golf tournaments, the men’s Tour de France (with a weeklong women’s edition for the first time this year!), and the women’s soccer Euro 2022 have organizers or governing bodies that only list the gender in their women’s events. Another such organization, FIFA, is holding its World Cup (for men) starting in November, but that’s not before the under-20 and under-17 Women’s World Cups (with “Women’s” as part of the official name) are held in the intervening months.
In addition to tournament names, there’s also the issue of league names. For example, I’ve seen some WNBA writers and fans informally refer to the NBA as the MNBA. Of course, you could also go with the approach taken by the National Women’s Hockey League, which last year removed its gender signifer and renamed itself as the Premier Hockey Federation.
Paul here. Thanks for this, Jamie — it’s all good food for thought. And thanks also for making me more cognizant of these issues and, in the process, making Uni Watch a better place.
Bulletin preview: When the NFL recently lifted the one-shell rule, a lot of people said, “Great, now we can finally see all those great throwbacks that got blocked by the stupid rule!” But is that really true? Sure, most of us will be happy to see Pat Patriot and Bucco Bruce again, but are there really that many worthwhile NFL throwbacks that were blocked by the one-shell rule? In an attempt to answer that question, I’ve prepared a team-by-team list of my picks for the best available throwback option with a non-primary helmet shell color for each NFL team. It will run on Bulletin in two parts — NFC tomorrow and AFC next week.
My Premium Subscribers will receive the NFC article in their in-boxes tomorrow morning. If you haven’t yet subscribed, you can do that here (you’ll need a Facebook account in order to pay). Don’t have or want a Facebook account? Email me for workaround info. Thanks!
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Start ’em young: Reader Steve Sher’s 13-year-old daughter tried her hand at rendering all of the Cubs’ logos. Love this so much!
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Meow: I spotted this guy at my local polling place when I went to vote yesterday. I loved the T-shirt design, so I asked him if it was for a softball team or something like that. Turns out it’s actually for a cat rescue organization that he volunteers for. Either way, great design!
“What’s It Worth?” reminder: In case you missed it on Monday, we’re once again partnering with Grey Flannel Auctions to offer free, no-obligations appraisals of your sports memorabilia items. Full details here.
By Lloyd Alaban
Baseball News: The Orioles have recently worn uni combos they’ve never worn before. On Monday, the club wore their road greys with their alternate O’s cap. On Saturday they didn’t wear their orange tops, which are their regular Saturday unis. At last Saturday’s home game, they wore their black tops with their regular home caps — a double rarity, and triple rarity if you count black tops at home for a day game (from Dan Matthews). … Phillies P Ranger Suárez says he’ll wear stirrups for today’s start. Here’s hoping he doesn’t wear them backwards or with high-top shoes, as he did in that photo. … Phillies OF Oscar Mercado wore No. 35 last night — the first Phillie to do so since P Cole Hamels was traded in 2015 (from Trevor Williams). … A Marlins blog is running a series on the history of major league ballparks (from Kary Klismet). … In this 1933 publication from the Chicago World’s Fair, a Safety Glass Manufacturers’ Association ad promises that “one of the biggest thrills of the fair” is to throw baseballs at a glass target (from Max Weintraub). … Mariners 1B/DH Carlos Santana has his nickname, Slamtana, printed on his sunglasses (from Stephen Petit).
Football News: Some Packers fans on Reddit want to see the team make some uni changes (from Scott Hurley).
Basketball News: Numerologist Etienne Catalan has the latest in NBA uni number assignments. … Here’s another article saying the Sixers could be bringing back their black jersey (from our own Phil Hecken).
Soccer News: New home kit for Paris St. Germain (from @acquijpayya). … Turns out Premier League clubs releasing shirts every year is doing a lot of harm to the environment (from our own Phil Hecken). … The next few items are from Ed Zelaski: New away shirt for Spanish club Leganes. … New home kit for Oldham Athletic of England. … New home and alternate shirts for Huddersfield Town of England. … New away shirt and third shirt for Plymouth Argyle of League One in England. … Mexican club Mineros de Zacatecas did a new shirt reveal in front of a mural, which got some attention because the mural included a drawing of a penis (from @AaronBaronHill). … The Tiny Football Car, a remote-controlled car modeled after the Volkswagen ID4, got a Pride-themed paint job. Tiny Football Car was used to carry the ball out during Euro 2020 last year (from Wade Heidt). … Real Madrid has released renderings of their renovated home stadium, Santiago Bernabeu. In the video, they show the exact field for Super Bowl XXX, which featured the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers, and also show a rendering of the NBA’s L.A. Lakers’ former court (from Moe Khan). … The next few items are from Kary Klismet: New home kits for Dutch side Heerenveen. … New kits for Bundesliga side FC Augsburg. … New kits for Fortuna Köln of German fourth-tier Regionalliga West.
Grab Bag: New athletics logo for the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley (from Kary Klismet). … Virginia volleyball posted their player numbers for next season. Says our own Jamie Rathjen: “That’s not very common for a UVA team to do — none of the teams I watch regularly do it.” … Also from Jamie: The men’s cycling team EF Education-Easypost is going to use some of its ad space during the men’s Tour de France to promote the women’s Tour, which for the first time is being held over a week (not just one day) after the men’s race. …. Tennis player Coco Gauff wore an all-white varsity jacket at Wimbledon yesterday, perhaps a reference to her recent high school graduation (from our own Brinke Guthrie). … Also from Brinke: Tennis player Jelena Ostapenko risked violating Wimbledon’s all-white dress code yesterday by wearing a cream-colored skirt . … New helmet design on the way for U.S. Air Force pilots (from Timmy Donahue). … The rock band Kiss was mocked for displaying an Australian flag during a concert in Austria (from Steve Kriske). … All Elite Wrestling’s belt for its All-Atlantic Champion features the flags of two countries — Japan and China — that aren’t even on the Atlantic Ocean (from David Firestone).
I just noticed something about the PSG link in The Ticker after reading this article (great job, btw, Jamie!) So on the new PSG uniforms, there is a mark on the sleeves that says GOAT. When you look at the women who posed for pictures, you can tell that theirs don’t include the GOAT, implying that they can’t be the greatest—only the guys can.
That’s actually an ad. It’s not that weird for men’s and women’s teams at the same club to have different ads (although usually the women have more).
GOAT is a sneaker and streetwear resale site – it’s not uncommon for men’s and women’s teams at the same club to have different jersey sponsors.
Really great post today–thanks Paul and Jamie!
Agreed, and thanks also to Jamie and to Paul for the effort at speaking of men’s and women’s sports in an even linguistic manner.
My own thinking on this is also shaped by soccer. I first got into the game with the 1998 men’s World Cup, where the USA was rather dismally dismissed early. But the very next year, USA dominated the women’s World Cup, and I’ve been hooked on the women’s game ever since. (Named our first dog after the USWNT captain at the time.) The fact that USA women are better than USA men, relative to the rest of the world, and have been for three or four generations of players now, helps. In international soccer, for the USA, the women can’t be seen as also-rans or lesser-than. USWNT is the legit first team of USA soccer. Earlier that decade, I’d also briefly dated a girl who played girl’s hockey, and while that was still a cutting-edge women’s sport, I found that I actually preferred watching the women’s game. I’m happy to note that my high school, which didn’t have a girl’s hockey team for my then-girlfriend to play on, now does, and they’re perennial state champs this century.
Whereas with more established pro sports, I still have the fallback mindset that the men’s game is the “normal” version and the women’s leagues, if they exist, are the exceptions. Having UW specify men’s and women’s where applicable, instead of just [sport] and women’s [sport], is helpful in improving my own default thinking about the sports.
If my memory serves correct (and it rarely does), in the past I think there was an article here a while back about colleges that still or did name the women’s teams “Lady (men’s team name)”.
Was there ever one about the college/university teams that had the women’s team with what many would consider a superior logo (or uniform design or name) to the men’s team?
Being not that familiar or that interested (beyond sometimes uniforms/logos when shown here) with the U.S. College scene, I’m wondering if Jamie would consider doing an article that highlights college ones where the women’s logos or uniforms outshine the men’s teams.
I’m even only somewhat more familiar with the university team uniforms/logos in Canada. One I have come across is the University of Alberta. While the men’s teams (Golden Bears) primary logo lacks originality, I like the women’s teams one (Pandas). Even ended up buying a used Pandas replica hockey jersey when I saw one pop up online.
That’s an interesting point. There aren’t that many sports you can directly compare (primarily basketball, soccer, and softball/baseball), though, and not many team-specific logos. Because of Title IX, which I mentioned, large universities with football teams usually have more women’s than men’s sports teams to make up for the football team being so big. Some team sports like lacrosse or volleyball have many more women’s teams or may be women-only like field hockey.
Great article! I do like that we seem to be getting away from gender ONLY identifying the women’s side of sports. Unconscious biases and such.
I noticed this year (maybe it started prior, I honestly don’t know) the College World Series for baseball and softball referred to as the Men’s and Women’s CWS respectively. While I’m not sure that was needed from this perspective as men play baseball and women softball, it’s probably just more in line with a general shift to put the billings on equal footing.
I do believe there is SOME nuance. I don’t know if MNBA really should happen. First of all, it makes me think of all those credit card offers back in my college days (ok, bad banker joke!). Seriously though, I would think, if there were a female basketball player that could play with the men, it would be odd to play that she would be playing in the Men’s NBA, no? I know that’s a long shot, but you never know. Same with golf, like when Annika or Wie. From a language perspective, some of the leagues that are all men are technically an “open” competition and there is no rule as to say what gender the absolute best of the best are.
Either way, again, great topic, thanks for writing it so well!
The CWS change makes sense to me because the Baseball CWS wasn’t referred to that way, it was just CWS with the softball as Softball CWS or Women’s CWS I believe. Interesting point about men’s leagues being open, I hadn’t thought of it that way before. However I wonder if that still contributes to them being seen as default, superior, etc.
I think they officially started calling it the Men’s College World Series last year.
For what it’s worth, the O’s orange jerseys were introduced in 2012 for home Saturdays, but they didn’t wear them on the road until like 2014 or 2015, and it didn’t become a regular Saturday thing until 2016 or 2017. So while it’s been a minute since they’ve done road grays on Saturdays, it’s not unprecedented/not something they’ve ‘never worn before’.
Black jerseys for a full weekend series has been done a couple of times as well the past 2 or 3 years, but this year was the first time they did it at home. Pairing them with the regular home cap was done for the first time ever on Lou Gehrig day, and then again on the Saturday mentioned in the ticker. May want to swap the photo out though, since it shows a batter; where they’ve always paired the regular home helmet at home, regardless of jersey choice.
Great work, Jamie. Language choices are subtle, but make a big difference.
Great piece, Jamie. I’m not a big fan of women’s sports (with the notable exception of college volleyball), and I’m actually a pretty limited fan of men’s sports too at this point, but I like Uni Watch as a design resource as much as a sports resource. And from a design perspective, women’s sports have a lot of uni-notable aspects. It’s great to see that getting respect. Keep it up!
One area where women’s sports have led the way in the uni-verse is basketball. For years, women’s jerseys featured much wider shoulder straps (there’s probably a proper term for that) which eventually led to more stylish neck opening treatments. Sometime over the last couple of decades, men’s uniforms in college and the pros have moved in that direction. All for the better, I would say.
ESPN has an interesting history in the way their website breaks out sports to follow. There are links for “Tennis” and “MMA” for example, which take you to coverage of whatever is happening in the sport regardless of gender. They also have links for “NCAAM” and “NCAAW” which are about basketball. Ironically, there is no indication of which sport they are referring to in those abbreviations.
I’ll be honest, I gave up sending ticker submissions after becoming discouraged by a response to an email looking for more women’s sports here. I am glad to see Jamie has stepped up over the past couple of years as it has been nice to see more coverage on this site. Maybe next year we’ll even get a WNBA season preview!
One thing to consider is to eliminate the use of the phrase “The big four” as it excludes not only all women’s sports leagues but some men’s leagues as well. As mentioned in this post, little changes like this can make a difference over time.
Sorry to hear that, Julie. Part of the reason why I don’t touch the WNBA as much is because I’m a bigger fan of college basketball (men’s and women’s) than pro. For better or for worse, what Uni Watch writes about is determined as much by what we have strong interest in as anything else, which is why there is not much women’s sports without me in the first place. I did cover when link.
Thanks Jamie and Paul. This is good stuff.
Great stuff, Jamie! Thank you for the post and changes that you’ve made!
The Rugby World Cup went gender neutral a few years ago (both 7s and 15s).
One area where the gender identifiers really matter: LBGTQ representation.
It was a big deal when Jason Collins came out while still playing, and I don’t want to minimize what he did, but the media circus around him as “THE FIRST GAY PRO ATHLETE EVER” or similar language was exhausting.
It was another example of treating men as the “default”.
Athletes in womens leagues broke down that barrier years ago. The number of out women in basketball, tennis, soccer, hockey, rugby, is enormous. Absolutely enormous. Let’s celebrate Collins and Michael Sam, I desperately hope for a time when male athletes don’t have to stay closeted, but I also think we need to acknowledge that there have been a HUGE number of women athletes who blazed this trail.
I’d like to see colleges follow the mold of professional leagues and eliminate gendered sports. Just have the best players in each sport on the team and then there will be no need for a gendered sport identifier.
In the same vein, the NBA and WNBA are accurately named because the NBA is open to anyone, while the WNBA is only open to women.
Separating two college teams based on gender actually does the women a disservice by relegating them them to a lesser squad.
What is now being referred to as the Men’s college basketball tournament represents the 12-14 best players at that school, not the 12-14 best men.
Calling the women’s team the women’s team is accurate because it is a collection of the 12-14 best women’s at the achool.
There is a sizeable history of women “playing up”. Enough so that the top squad at a school should not be referred to as women’s team.
I think Valkyries, Amazons, and Mermaids are three of the best unused names in sports. I should hope men and women would be proud to play for teams with this iconography.
I know it originates in Greek mythology, but I think in current culture (and perhaps pejorative slang), it might be problematic. YMMV, good sir.
I wonder how UW readers regard uniforms for teams with both men’s and women’s squads. Personally, I prefer when they wear the exact same uniform, as the US national soccer teams now do and as most, but not all, European top-level clubs do. So, like, when I started following Man City because my favorite player, Rose Lavelle, played for their women’s side, I could spring for her number on the back of a men’s jersey, and to this day that’s my Man City shirt, even though I mostly only get to watch men’s City games due to international streaming. And when watching or attending USMNT games, I can wear my USWNT jersey, which differs only in the number of (really, the presence of) World Cup championship stars.
But other clubs with both gendered teams have different uniform styles, sometimes even different names, for their men’s and women’s teams, and I could see how someone might prefer variety to the standardization that I prefer.
Paul, my main question: are you gonna get one of those shirts?! I might – I think the cat logo is really cool too.
I see two competing and valid interests here:
(1) the desire to treat women’s sports as an equal; and
(2) factual accuracy.
Quite simply, there are no men’s sports teams or men’s sports leagues (that I’m aware of). Those teams and leagues are open to both men and women. For example, the US Open golf tournament just took place in Brookline, MA. Any woman that wanted to could have qualified for this tournament if she went through the qualification process. In fact, women HAVE played in PGA Tour events – both Annika Sorrenstam and Michelle Wie have teed it up in official, PGA Tour-sanctioned competitions. This was not the Men’s US Open. It was anyone’s US Open.
Just a couple weeks before the Brookline tournament, the Women’s US Open was played in North Carolina. This event was exclusively for women to compete in. It was truly the WOMEN’S US Open.
By the same token, the NBA is not the MNBA. It’s anyone’s NBA. However, only women can play in the WNBA. Functionally, the NBA operates as the MNBA, but as a matter of fact, it is not.
I do share the desire to treat women’s sports as just as valid and entertaining as men’s sports. I’m actually a huge fan of the LPGA Tour and watch it just as much as the PGA Tour. I hope my point about factual accuracy doesn’t come off as chauvinistic in any way.
It’s not chauvinist, it’s true.
If there was a woman that had a 3 pitch arsenal that could be a solid middle reliever or even closer, I guarantee you that 30 MLB teams would sign her. It has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with ability. It’s the reason why many people like sports-it is more about what you can do instead of who/what you are.
I live in a city where there is a NWSL team and I can count on one hand (maybe) where I’ve seen any discussion about them. Heck, the Seattle Seawolves were in the Major League Rugby finals this past weekend and I don’t recall seeing one item anywhere locally about it. So it’s not only gender. It’s the sport itself.
Look, the Big 4 (Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey) might some day become the Big 5 (+Soccer) but I don’t see there being a Men’s big 5 and a women’s Big 5 anytime soon. Sorry, but I’m a realist.
PROOFREADING: The last item on the soccer Ticker section (Fortuna Köln) has the wrong link.
Thanks! Now fixed. Here’s the proper link: link
Paul and Jamie,
Is this the time to include the “Lady” moniker for discussion as well? Some women’s sports have at one point or another in time officially adopted the “Lady” (e.g. Vols) name, others simply have sports writers invent the name (e.g. Lady Badgers). There may be some regional interest in saying Lady vs. Woman, but what are your thoughts on the official and unofficial use of the term “Lady” in reference to sports teams? I don’t think rebranding college teams under a different mascot is a good idea (see equivalent of Premier Hockey Federation).
I have addressed this from time to time. I *hate* “Lady”-based team names, and hate diminutives (Kittens, e.g.) even more.
Would you say Lions and Lionesses (for thr English futbol team) is okay or still patronizing?
I know we’ve been back and forth on this before, and we don’t have to do it again, but I just can’t get behind the idea that diminutives are inherently pejorative. I feel like that idea itself ultimately demeans women if you take it out to its logical end.
What I mean by that is this: Largely due to differences in testosterone levels, women could be reasonably considered physically diminutive relative to men. (Lower testosterone is the biggest biological reason why women typically have smaller muscles than men and typically aren’t physically able to qualify for “men’s” leagues.) Women, of course, also typically grow to a shorter mature height than men, which I believe is genetically determined, though I admittedly don’t know much about that specific aspect of human biology.
In addition to the physical size issue, women also typically reach their peak physical capability at a younger age than men. This can be seen most dramatically in gymnastics (though there are admittedly other factors at play in that specific sport), but it’s noticeable in other physically demanding activities as well.
By viewing diminutive terms as inherently pejorative, aren’t you implying that there’s something inherently negative about being smaller/younger? Since women are naturally smaller and peak (physically speaking) at a younger age than men, the logical extension of that line of thinking is that women are inferior to men… which is exactly what you’re trying to avoid.
By viewing diminutive terms as inherently pejorative, aren’t you implying that there’s something inherently negative about being smaller/younger?
Actually, there *is* something inherently “less than” about being younger. That’s why children don’t have the same rights/privileges as adults. And that’s why referring to one gender as adults and the other as children is unacceptable.
Solid, thoughtful article on a important topic. Thanks for all your work to increase & improve the coverage of women’s sports on this site, Jamie. And thank you, Paul, for encouraging Jamie’s efforts.
One thing I’ve always appreciated with US Soccer (and the US Soccer fandom), is the recognition that they have two senior teams representing the country. USMNT, USWNT, U-20 WYNT, U-20 MYNT, etc.
Sunday’s Uni Watch article included the following passage:
“For Wimbledon, Adidas continues with their “Parley” campaign. The Adidas x Parley Collection will be worn by their guys Felix Auger-Aliassime, Elena Rybakina, Maria Sakkari and Stefanos Tsitsipas”
– I commented that Elena and Maria aren’t guys, so Phil fixed Brinke’s wording and added “(and ladies)” to the sentence. Few things bother me more linguistically than hearing/reading about a group of people that includes men and women being referred to as “guys.”
Great blog post there Paul. I agree totally with the language, but you don’t take it far enough…why do we allow for gender discrimination in sports at all? It’s 2022, and there is no longer any reason to send to message to girls that they can’t compete with the boys. Remember when they said girls couldn’t be smart enough to be doctors and lawyers? Also, this would put to rest the questions about trans athletes.
Hi, Jamie! Great piece today! I have noticed your efforts bring more content about women’s sports to Uni Watch, and I appreciate it. Thanks for those efforts!
Well done. Great points. Thank you.
CMD+F “untiol 1971” -> until 1971
One thing I appreciate about this column is that it gives me reasons and ways to think about things differently.
One of the things I will admit I have struggled with as we try to be a more progressive society is the idea that, as we try to be more inclusive, we also have a tendency to make things more complicated and convoluted. I’m a big believer in efficiency: Work fast, think fast, type fast, be succinct, and so on. It allows you to do more (or type more, as is the case with my often long, rambling thoughts).
One of my default phrases in my 20 years as a PA announcer, something that almost feels like a throwaway to address a crowd, has been “ladies and gentlemen.” One of the reasons I like the phrase is that it has an air of formality. I feel like it serves as a bit of an encouragement for the fans to behave in a way more representative of polite society, especially since I often use it before sportsmanship and stadium rules announcements that encourage fans to use that best behavior. However, it was recently pointed out to me that, in our current age of gender fluidity, “ladies and gentlemen” is not wholly inclusive of those who may not feel wholly a part of either the female or male gender.
Do I want to be inclusive? Yes. However, there isn’t quite a three-word phrase yet that implies that elevated behavioral and social status for individuals who may be moreso gender fluid. One site suggested “they-dees and gentle-thems,” but I feel like that’s a bit of a too-jokey bridge too far. Yes, I can talk around the phrase’s gendered language with something like “Fans, coaches and players,” but I do feel like that doesn’t carry the same je ne sais quoi. “Fan” doesn’t carry the same implication of respectful behavior as our old-school concept of being gentlemanly or lady-like.
Furthermore, there are … a lot … of different gender identities out there when you start digging into it. A simple Google search says six at first, then ups it to seven in another link, and if you want to get into sexual orientations, too, you can find graphics with upwards of 40-50 flags representing different ones. To be honest, if I have to start naming them all to make everyone feel included, it’s going to take a while. Part of modern living, in my mind, is moving fast so we can accomplish more.
In short, I’m struggling with balancing the want to be inclusive with a want to not feel like inclusivity becomes a drain on people’s time.
Accordingly, I’ll be honest: I like the idea that, honestly, women’s leagues don’t need “women” in the title any more than men’s league need “men” in the title. Let the league just be the league and let it stand on its own. It makes for shorter league names and no different makeup for the league.
As part of the group that’s had far too outsized of a control over such matters for way too long — cisgender white males — I kinda feel like my opinion on all of it probably should be either meaningless or disregarded. It’s up to the leagues themselves to decide how they want to identify, not up to me. But, in my admittedly worthless opinion, I like that approach. That would be my vote.
And I’d still like a non-gendered term of respect for people that carries a little higher level of dignity that doesn’t feel unwieldy or weird. I wish we could get on standardizing something for that, because I feel like it needs to enter common language before I can use it surreptitiously.
Great piece Jamie! I started following Women’s Soccer during the 2015 World Cup in France. One thing that struck me was that player skill was the main thing on show. The significant “physical” component that is in the men’s game was much less a factor which made it more enjoyable to watch. Another thing was there was almost a complete absence of “winning a free kick” AKA simulation or diving that is so prevalent in men’s soccer. Sadly as time has gone on, this seems to be changing for the worse in Women’s soccer too.
The other recent development is soccer “kits” designed specifically to fit women. In an interview I remember Alex Scott who played for Arsenal and England saying their kits used to be hand-me-downs from the men’s team! Now they are tailored specifically for women. And this is even reflected in fan shirts which quite often have a male and female fit version.
Ooops! That should be CANADA 2015 World Cup!
Wow, this is a great example of changing what you can and leading by example. Thanks Paul & Jamie!
Jamie, I have loved seeing when you have sent updates about the NWSL. I am a Black trans woman in Seattle who is a season ticket holder of the Reign and a member of the Royal Guard Supporters Group. If you’d ever like to have a discussion regarding the Reign or the NWSL in general, please feel free to hit me up!
Big, big props to Steve Sher’s daughter on those Cubs logos! She even noticed that the bear was brown for a few years on the white home uniforms! (Isn’t that a href=”https://th.bing.com/th/id/OIP.xUMA8xeGBdaYGhZ1MxrljQHaKm?pid=ImgDet&rs=1″>beautiful uniform set?)
I love seeing artwork from kids here; past generations ended up having their parents toss it out, but now it can live on for as long as image storage can preserve it!