Hi All,

Still working on getting our sports language less gender-oriented. Much earlier I wrote about trying to find a word to replace "sportsmanship" and so far have collected only the "bad sportsmanship" equivalent, which was suggested by a British participant: "it's not cricket." Would love to find something to use in a sentence like this: "Wow--the way you all worked together and played your best showed excellent _______________." Anyone have any ideas?

I've been a soccer coach for 18 years, and have been a player for nearly as long, in local Ann Arbor rec-ed and indoor soccer.
I'm glad to report that with consistent and gentle reminders, the women's indoor soccer leagues have now widely changed from "man on" as a warning to teammates to "on you." (It's the same number of syllables, works just as well, and is more generally suitable.) A girl participating at state-level soccer taught me that one, and I've been enlisting help in getting all ages of players to use this phrase. It's taken about two years, but now "man on" is much less used, and is usually corrected. This change is even moving to men's leagues. Yeah!
I think we owe it to the children, particularly to the girls, to make sports everyone's game, on the field and in our language. Is use of "on you" something you can get going in your sports leagues?

You can also send advice about what to do about the notes we get to faculty that are well-intentioned in tone, you know, sort of a buddy-buddy thing, but start, "Hi Guys..."

Opposing views are welcome as well; it's a debate we may need to have.


Tags: gender, issues, language, sports

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Reactivating this forum a year later, reporting in from the field.

The shift appeared to be temporary. The shift to "on you" as opposed to "man on" worked with most of the teams then, even men's leagues. Don't know if the whole thing was personally-based, just acquiescence to a few friends' stated wishes, spreading out of consideration for the people who cared. Gradually the talk reverted back to "man on." Why, I wonder... Then realized that much of the gender-based language use was emanating from young players. Hmmmm.... My goal is working towards the shift was in consideration of the huge influx of girls into sports, the results of Title IX. Thought it was good in general to think of participants as players, not men. I've interviewed many young women about their opinion about gender-based sports language; the results are mixed. Curiously, several responded with something like, "Well, we've entered into a man's world, why should we be bothered by the language?"

Any opinions, reflections? I'm wondering now if I should even care.

Reporting back again from the (soccer) field:
Actually the language did shift. Turns out that a number of prominent players thought the language shift was a good idea overall, and over time, with gentle (often humorous) reminders, "on you" has come to be more standard than "man on." I also hear people shout "coming on" as an indication that someone is out of your visual range but threatening.
Sports and sports language--so fascinating. Social experiments with the rituals and traditions of sports may be good to share. Got any?



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