A man recently called the Payson Roundup's What's Up line.
He asked why female Payson High School athletes were referred to as "Lady Longhorns" when males were referred to simply as "Longhorns," and "shouldn't the expectations for both sexes be the same?"I've lived or worked in the Rim Country for eight years. If there has been a conduct problem with school athletes in general I haven't heard about it.
I have even seen opposing team members knock each other down and help each other back up, so gentlemen and football aren't exactly oxymoronic.
Max Foster, former Rim Country coach and the Roundup's sports reporter, said that other high schools in Arizona refer to their female athletes with the term "Lady" in front of their nickname, and have been doing so since long before he became a sports writer (which stretches back into the mists of antiquity, if you get my drift).
I am assuming that the What's Up line caller was in fact a man and not a woman with an unusually deep voice. I think by his wording he made assumptions, not necessarily in this order and perhaps not wrong:
1. that the male athletes at PHS are not gentlemen;
2. that the expectation of proper comportment for both sexes should be the same;
3. but that the definition of proper comportment for each sex is, alas, different.
Admittedly, the amount of time I have spent in 39 years paying attention to or playing sports probably doesn't add up to all that many hours. This includes Dodger and Diamondback baseball games and my own school days as a Westwood Warrior, a Carson Raider and an Emerson Eagle in Mesa.
Most of those hours were spent watching my daughter play basketball in the parks and rec league here in Payson, or watching the Phoenix Suns play on TV. (Steve Nash makes passing balls to his other teammates look effortless.) ((Editor's note: does this sound like a chick talking, or what?))
But at least my schools had reasonably powerful nicknames.
Along with our own Longhorns, Arizona features the Thundercats of Salome, Roadrunners of Holbrook, Scorpions of Goodyear and the Yuma Sidewinders.
All are better team names, with or without "Lady" in front of them, than the mascots of some high schools elsewhere in the U.S.
Imagine being a teenage girl at Hollywood High School, in Hollywood, Calif. The only sporting option is football and she'd have to play for the Sheiks. But at least she wouldn't have to walk a step behind the quarterback.
If she moved to Illinois she might wind up in the Cobden School District (I have to believe this must be apple country) and become an Appleknocker.
Somehow "Gentlemen Appleknockers" calls an altogether different image than sportsmanship to mind. So does membership in the Appleknocker Booster Club. But in this district our lucky female athlete could choose to play basketball, softball or both.
There are the Oracles in Delphi, Indiana. The soothsayer of Greece was female. Hmmm. I wouldn't want to be a male athlete at this school. When the local sportswriter asks for a prediction to the outcome of the state championship game, shouldn't the coach know?
In Brewer, Maine there are Witches. I wonder if there are Wizards and Warlocks?
Teams in Ohio have Lawyers and G-men (government men) for mascots.
St. Hubert's is an all girls school in Philadelphia. They are called the Bambies. I'm confused. The only famous Bambi I'm familiar with is of animated renown and lives at Disney studios. Presumably he grew up to be a buck.
In Farmerville, Louisiana athletes call themselves the Fighting Farmers.
Now that would make for a great headline: Lady Longhorns Fighting Farmers.
Offered for your enjoyment are real Roundup headlines over stories about the exploits of our female athletes. Below them is a substitute headline using another school's nickname:
Three arms carry Lady Horns
Three arms carry Lady Ironmen
PHS girls run foes into the ground
Juggernaut girls run foes into the ground
Banged up Lady Horns head to Holiday Hoops
Banged up Wooden Shoes head to Holiday Hoops
Defending state runner-up drills Lady Longhorns
Defending state runner-up drills Lady Porcupines
Hopes dashed, Lady Horns out of the race
Hopes dashed, Chipmunks out of race
Lady Longhorns' net-squad takes on season-long nemesis
Lady Longhorns' net-squad takes on Wampus Cats (because everyone knows it takes a net to catch a wampus cat.)
and finally one for the guys:
Horns snatch Arizona basketball championship
Cavemen snatch New Mexico basketball championship
I just can't see ‘Lady' as patronizing because a Longhorn is a cattle breed. Science refers to the female of this species as a cow. And that ain't no bull.