Dear America: High School Mascots Need to Change

Our mascots need to change as time goes on.



They play the same sport, they both work hard–shouldn’t they be represented the same?

Sarah Mendoza, Staff Writer

There are many problems regarding how schools differentiate genders in sports. But one problem, in particular, is how they refer to their female athletes.

Many high schools around the country represent their female athletes by putting “Lady” in front of the mascot name or even putting an ending on it. For example, they might refer to the young women in Milbury as “Lady Woolies.” At other schools, they might say “Tigerettes” instead of adding lady to the beginning.

The logo for Millbury high school’s student-athletes. They are the Woolies. What is a woolie? (MaxPreps)

By adding these prefixes and endings to the mascots, it creates a line between not only males and females but people who are non-binary as well.  A non-binary person is someone who doesn’t identify as male or female. A non-binary person might feel forgotten or left out when they only have male or female sports or refer to their mascots with these labels.

When schools change their mascots’ names for women, it puts culture in sports and makes it seem like men’s sports are better than women’s. But, girls wear the same color uniforms and the same school name on their jerseys. They put in the same amount of work in practice and have the same pride on the field, court, and rink.

So, with that in mind, do the women athletes along with society need to keep being reminded that they are “ladies” in the sport, not men? I’m pretty sure they had that figured out a while ago.

For some high school alumni, it might feel wrong to let go of the mascot they grew up with. High school mascots hold a very special place in people’s hearts. If an athlete achieved an accomplishment in high school under the name of a mascot, it is hard to switch to a different one. But, sometimes it is better to change something that will help the community and make schools feel more inclusive.

Times change and mascots need to evolve with them. Now, I’m not saying that every couple of years you must change a name. But, making sure that the name is appropriate and not offensive will be key to improving our society.

An important amendment in the U.S. that allows all genders to have the same athletic opportunities is Title IX.  It states that no person shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

The explanation of the Title IX amendment that was passed in 1972. (Ramapo College of New Jersey)

This is basically saying that if you are an educational organization receiving financial assistance from the Department of Education, then you can’t discriminate by sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Title IX came into action in 1972. It was created to acknowledge the disproportionate educational offers women got in the 1970s. Before this amendment, women had limited access to educational and sport programs.

Because of Title IX, many girls and women have access to equal opportunities in schools across the United States. It does not only allow equal opportunities in sports but education as well. Without Title IX girls would not have nearly as many opportunities today.

With that in mind, 51 years after Title IX was passed, are we still trying to tell women that their sports team isn’t as important as the men’s teams? If so, that is very wrong because they are both equally important and deserve the same amount of attention.

Just because men’s sports were founded years before women’s sports doesn’t mean we still have to differentiate athletes because of it.

Some woman’s programs use “lady” mascots to differentiate women’s and men’s sports but now it’s getting outdated. Those days are in the past– right where the use of “Lady” nicknames should be.

They are already separated because it is the “girl’s soccer team” or “boy’s soccer team.” This already shows the difference in teams without having to add to the mascot’s name.

Girls around the world are told almost on a daily basis that they can’t do the same things as boys. Whether it’s playing sports, lifting things, or saying certain phrases, intended or not these things are very common.

One instance where the use of “lady” is almost part of the brand is with the women’s basketball team at the University of Tennessee. They have held onto this name for years and years. Tennessee is the Volunteer State, therefore making the mascot the Volunteers which often gets shortened to Vols.

Logo of the University of Tennessee’s mascot name for the women’s basketball team. (WNML-AF)

The women’s basketball team at this school is the only sport that keeps Lady Vols while all other women’s sports are referred to as the Vols.

This name has so much history, tradition, and legacy to go along with it so keeping it makes sense. But, high school mascots have yet to reach a point where you need to keep the term “lady” in front of it.

At a glance, it is a small issue but as time progresses there is a chance that it will spiral into a bigger issue.

So why not just take care of it now?