Staff editorial – 4/17

Adherence to the outdated term “Lady Comets” disregards the nature of sports

Go Lady Comets.

Rewind the leaps women have made toward gender equality–as voters that balance children and independent occupations–and we’ll find parents telling their daughters to “Act like a lady” and their sons to “Be a gentleman.”

We know the phrases only call for politeness and courtesy: women arrange the petal-patterned china on the mahogany dining table while men open the door for their expected guests. Though conventional gender roles have morphed, our parents still express the same sentiments through the more modern “Be on your best behavior.”

But our parents never echo either sentiment before a sporting event. Sure, they may have bribed us with a chocolate-dipped, rainbow-sprinkled Whippy Dip cone to run in the correct direction in our Little League days, but as we trained harder, faster, longer–often with trainers paid for at their expense–the “Just do your best” aspect of the game has evaporated.

Now our coaches walk on to the softball field, track, or volleyball court with cheeks purpled from screams, brows cluttered with beads of sweat and feet bruised from endless pacing. They shriek for us to “hustle”, “run” and “c’mon.” We respond with mud-splattered slides on our knees as we stretch a cleat past home plate, a fight against nausea and incinerated muscles as we pray for the finish line or an upward lurch as we slam a volleyball past enemy lines.

This is not the time for “ladylike” behavior. This is sports.

And yet we don’t blink when telling female athletes, “Go ladies,” but we would never say, “Go gentlemen” to the football team. Because sports do not call for courtesy and politeness. They’re jam-packed with brutality, merciless battle and unfathomable physical
endurance–something we teach our sons to prize from birth through inter-sibling wrestling tournaments, but that we shield our daughters from via a veil of fishtail braids. Even when we line up with our opponents to shake hands and parrot, “Good game,” it is not for the sake of “ladylike” behavior so much as another of our coach’s iron-fisted lessons: good sportsmanship.

The “lady” misnomer is not a necessary homage to history. We can preserve our legacy through GMC trophies, state champion portraits and record-shattering times–and recognize the accomplishments of boys and girls alike as one unified team. So when the green and white readies for battle, we can simply chant: “Go Comets.”