Eagles vs. Lady Eagles: Gender Discrimination or Harmonious Coexistence?

A bald eagle, the school mascot, symbolizes strength, courage and leadership. When "lady" is added to the eagle title, how, does it affect others perceptions of the all-girls teams?

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Julia Gaworski '17, Deputy Sports Editor

Lady. A single word jam-packed with connotations and history. For years, students and staff alike have wondered, yet not been extremely concerned with the gender labeling of sports teams via the terms Eagles for the male teams and Lady Eagles for the female teams. At the surface, these terms are used to separate two teams that play the same sport, yet, when you move more in depth, specifying gender for teams representing the same school may be seen as gender discrimination. On the other hand, it may be seen as a possibility to take pride in one’s gender or identity as a whole.

According to the Athletic Director Frank Griseto there are no rules that force a team to be called the Lady Eagles. Girls basketball, for example, calls themselves the Eagles, while the girls volleyball teams call themselves the Lady Eagles. The individual coach’s preference ultimately decides the fate of the team label, not the school.

“Some of the teams when they ordered uniforms and stuff said ‘Lady Eagles’” Griseto said. “We really don’t have a policy on it one way or the other.”

Olivia Ottenfeld ’16, varsity softball player, believes that calling the female athletes “Lady Eagles” in a way glamorizes their experience in comparison to the male athlete’s, thus, making young-women seem less-competitive.

“I think it’s pretty unfair to use the term ‘Lady Eagles’ because I feel that everyone’s equal,” said Ottenfeld. “Especially in a school like Jones. I feel like it would be better if everyone was just addressed as the Eagles.” The label does not define the athletes, rather, it’s insignificant and extraneous.

“I don’t think that by any means it makes the girls sound weaker by calling them the Lady Eagles,” said Aidan Garton ’18, “but they shouldn’t be referred to by their gender.”

Similarly, Rosie Ryan ’16, president of the new feminist club, acknowledged that the use of the word ‘lady’ in an athletic context is belittling, however, gender is something to take pride in. In this case, perhaps, pride could be shown in a different way.

“I definitely think it’s a diminishing name.” said Ryan. “It’s very lady-like, you think dainty, you think delicate, you think fragile and I think those are the traditional associations, but I also think it’s kinda hard to reclaim things and I think if the women’s teams at Jones could re-claim their gender, they’d have to use a word that isn’t lady because it’s got such diminished associations with it.”

All in all, both male and female athletes belong in the same “Eagles’ nest.” “I think that no matter what, you’re an Eagle,” said Emily Patzke ’16. “It shouldn’t matter what gender you are.”