The following is a guest post from my dear friend John Bohstedt regarding University of Tennessee’s women’s basketball team, the Lady Vols. John sent this into a local paper as a Letter to the Editor. I just wanted to get the conversation going.
Letter: Fight name change on the national level
“Bubbas hit Lady Vols!” and “UTK seeks elite status, national recognition.” Do these headlines mesh or clash? We have three months to find out. The University of Tennessee is not listening to its community. We need to reach out to the national media and see how the issue plays on that stage.
UT Athletic Director Dave Hart has decreed, “No more Lady Vols.” Lady Vols basketball has a reprieve, but that’s merely a divide-and-conquer ploy. Next year or the year after, Pat Summitt’s legacy will also be vaporized.
Instead of UT listening to its fan bases, some junior executive at Nike mumbles something about segmenting a brand, and Hart abolishes one of the university’s most successful brands in terms of national titles and fan base. But what if the issue goes national? Can Bubba University get recognition among elite universities while pushing women around?
What if ESPN and the Washington Post, etc., and Facebook and Twitter took up the issue? Is UT an elite university when its clueless men are rolling the clock back 40 years on women’s recognition? That recognition was not granted by men, but won in competitive battles by strong and courageous women. I’m afraid sweeping them into a man-cave does not get you elite status. Rather it’ll likely push UT into good ole Bubba-land.
So let’s reach out to our strong women on the national level, women like Kara Lawson of ESPN, Candace Parker of the WNBA, Nancy-Ann Min DeParle, UT Rhodes Scholar and onetime U.S. Cabinet member, and others. What women and men do you know who could shine some national light on this blunder? What if it went viral on Facebook and Twitter? This slap in the face is so backward, with women making strides across the board, that our larger society will not accept it.
John Bohstedt, Knoxville