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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Are they just Cards or can they be Lady Cards?


-Is "Lady" in front of a women's teams' name an issue?

-Becky gets another chance to play string music

-Pat's road trip

We recently received an e-mail here at CARDINAL COUPLE that gently chided us for our referral to the University of Louisville women's basketball team as the "Lady Cards". The writer -- who preferred to remain anonymous when I e-mailed back and told of my plans to build an article around the e-mail -- pointed out that it was largely a southeastern college and university trait and felt it a bit demeaning and subjective to those programs. 

According to Webster Dictionary, a lady is the counterpart of a lord or gentleman. That doesn't sound demeaning to me. 

WE wonder how many ladies
go to this place? 
The e-mailer, who is not from the southeastern part of the United States or female, concluded that two teams in the CARDINAL COUPLE home base -- the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky had nicknames that were uni-sex. Cardinals and Wildcats. So why did fans, writers and the general public feel the need to stick the term "lady" in front of their nickname? 

This nice lady is Suzy Merchant.
She's the head women's basketball
coach at Michigan State.
Can there be Lady Spantans? 
I did a little research and ran across an article in Swish Appeal (a good site about women's basketball that we like to read from time to time) that dealt with the "Lady" phenomena. The author listed over seventy D1 and II college and university programs that had "Lady" in front of the team's nickname. Ironically, this writer didn't list either UofL or UK in that list. 

I also looked at the sixteen teams that have qualified for the NCAA Women's Basketball "Sweet Sixteen". Three of them are officially listed with "Lady" in front of their nickname. Georgia (Lady Bulldogs), Tennessee (Lady Vols) and Baylor (Lady Bears).

C'mon, lady! Get off your cell phone
and move your car! 
There can certainly be ladies in all three of these categories. Mama or Lady Bears can be rough and tough when protecting their young. The Tennessee Vols can be rough and tough also when playing in front of 20,000 in Thompson-Boling. 

We certainly have some great lady volunteers in our nation. I picked up a church bulletin the other day that was specifically asking for ladies to volunteer at the weekly fish-fry. Makes sense to me. Bulldogs can be ladies as well. Even though, in Louisville, we have a high school that has the nickname Male Bulldogs. I wonder if the girls' basketball team there refers to themselves as the Male Lady Bulldogs? (And what time does the mail lady get here, I have letters that need to go out!)

A red storm can do a lot of damage. It is not
a lady (unless it is Nadriah McKenith slicing down
the lane)
Some may equate the term "lady" to the old southern reference to a female. Visions of a southern mansion, white pillars in front and a genteel servant asking a woman in a hoop skirt if "the lady would like another Mint Julep?"  (We hope she says "Yes"!) 

After all, Derby is less than six weeks away! 

Some may think of the term "lady" in parlance of a New York taxi driver...yelling out his window "Hey, lady! The light's green! You gonna go or what?" 

Some may not think of it at all. We call them zombies. 
Boilermakers can be potent. They aren't
ladies..but I guess ladies drink them.

I was taught at an early age that the term "lady" was to be used as a respectful term. "Paulie, you go thank that nice lady for giving you an extra piece of cake." We had other terms for women that weren't so nice. Guys too. I won't go into them here. 

Hurricanes are dangerous. They're not
ladies, though.
So, in the end...can Catamounts be ladies? How about Boilermakers or Sun Devils? I'm pretty sure that Gamecocks can...not so sure if a Red Storm can, though. No doubt that Irish can be  ladies...I married one, but a Hurricane? I don't think so. Sonja has a temper at times but she's never swirled omnisciently over the tree line

Styx did some great songs! Lady was
one of them...
We're going to stay with the description of the women's athletic teams here at the University as the Lady Cards. All of the female athletes I've met at UofL have been nice and people that should be I have no qualms about using "Lady" It doesn't bother Sonja in the least either. She's been called a lot worse. So have I, and I'm certainly no lady...

Plus, it's a great song by Styx. 

(Got a take on this? Leave a comment or shoot us an e-mail, ladies and gentlemen, at:


Did you hear the great news? Becky Burke has been selected to take part in the 3-point shooting contest between college seniors at the NCAA Tournaments! We know "BB" will play some string music in this event. They don't guard the shooters in this contest...but maybe they could make an exception in her case and send a St. John's player in...she always shot well from beyond the arc against the Red Storm. 

The event takes place on Thurs, March 29th. at 9 p.m. and will be shown on ESPN. It would be great if Kyle Kuric could take place as well, but we're hoping that he and the Cards are still in contention for a National Championship. 

Linkie below:

Burke will bomb in 3-point shootout


Finally, we found this long but very well written read from Pat Forde on tournament hysteria. It's not women's basketball related, but we wanted to share it with you. Pat has come a long way from sliding quarters taped to business cards under UofL basketball players' dorm room doors.

Pat and Paul have a brief history. Back in the nineties, Paul sent him a letter chastising him for a negative article on UofL basketball and Denny Crum. Pat sent it back, circling all the punctuation errors and mis-spelled words..with a few comments. This was way before we had laptops or automatic spell-check and it was hand-written. Well played, sir.

Who knows? He may even cover a University of Louisville's womens' basketball game someday...

 Go CARDS TONIGHT!!!Pat takes a road trip is the linkie. Enjoy!


  1. Jeff McAdams3/22/2012 8:34 AM

    Yes, the term "Lady" is almost always used in a respectful manner, I agree completely with that. That isn't the end of the story, however.

    The writer in "Swish Appeal" didn't list UofL (and I suspect UK is much the same in this respect) in the list because the University of Louisville Athletic department, if you'll pay attention, never refers to the women's sports teams and participants as "Lady Cards". Any time you hear that appellation, you'll notice that it is coming from someone not officially affiliated with the UofL Athletic Department (ok, I've heard people slip up once or twice, Jeff Walz referred to the "Lady Cards" when he was first hired, for example, but never since that I've seen).

    The explanation that I heard was that prefixing "Cardinals" with "Lady" in the case of the women's teams suggests that they aren't as much full fledged representatives of the University and the Athletic Department. The connotation is something along the lines of "Well, they're not *really* Cardinals, they're just the 'Lady Cards'". While certainly a respectful term of address, it still does belittle their contributions to the University to refer to them that way. I do still hear Athletic Department folk refer to the athletes themselves, occasionally, as "Ladies" ("These ladies played really well, tonight", or something along those lines), but they don't refer to the team name as "Lady Cards".

    If other Universities don't see the issue that way, that's fine, they're free to address their teams how they wish, and I really doubt anyone would wish to minimize the contribution Pat Summitt's teams have made to the University of Tennessee, for example, but I do understand and support this explanation for UofL's decision not to use this term.

    I'll also note that I've never heard or even heard reference to anyone in the UofL Athletic Department correcting outsiders on the use of "Lady Cards", so they don't make a big fuss over it, they just don't use it themselves.

    1. A quick scan of the 2011-12 Louisville Basketball team guide for the University of Louisville women's basketball team indicates that the term "Lady Cards" isn't used. They are simply referred to
      as "Louisville basketball" mostly. Or just "Louisville". I also read that several of the current players think that Jeff Walz has a great sense of fashion. Maybe we'll start referring to him as "Gentleman Jeff." Good points made in your comments, Jeff.

  2. I think the main reason I use the term is because I post on many different sites and sometimes need to distinguish which team I am talking about. Never really thought about it much other than that, and certainly I am not trying to diminish anything about their contributions or trying to degrade them in any way.

    And as one of Becky Burke's biggest fans, GO BECKY!!!

  3. I actually just gave a presentation on this topic in a class on gender inclusive language. I do not think the issue is preceding the team name with "Lady." The real issue is that men's sports are not labeled and women's are, which creates this distinction between the two by only labeling one side. On ESPN they show men's basketball scores with the label NCAAB, with the B standing for basketball. However, women's basketballs scores are shown as NCAAW, with the W standing for women with no reference to basketball. So why do we automatically think NCAAB is referring to MEN's basketball? This perpetuates a culture of valuing women's sports less because they seem less competitive by preceding the name with "Lady" and labeling their sport as women playing this men's sport. I have also found nothing officially affiliated with the University of Louisville naming their women athletes as Lady Cards. In fact, cardinals can be both male and female, however, a cardinal is only red if it is male. Therefore, the University of Louisville mascot is a male and it is contradictory to label a red cardinal as a lady. I am not a major activist when it comes to this issue, but it good to at least be aware of how gender biased our language really is.

    1. We have decided to use the term Lady Cards less than we used to. One of the reasons is because we are a UofL women's sports site and if we refer to Cards basketball we'll hope people can figure out we're talking about the women's team

      Given the nature of our readership base, it shouldn't be an issue.



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