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What makes a female athlete a ‘lady’?

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I came across a tweet the other day that raised an interesting point. (And with no live sport to write about, you better believe I’m going to milk it for all that it’s worth.)

BBC Sport presenter Sarah Mulkerrins posed the following question to her followers: “Am I the only one that would remove all mention of ‘ladies’ in women’s sport?” The replies were overwhelmingly in favour of Mulkerrins’ suggestion, with prominent journalists and reporters like Greg Allen, Kieran Cunningham and Jacqui Oatley all siding with the Irishwoman.

All told, of the 100-plus comments and quote retweets, at least 90% agreed that ‘ladies’ should be ditched from the sporting lexicon.

In a follow-up article, Fiona Tomas, a sports reporter for The Telegraph, explained why she “loathes” the word.

“Overt gender marking has always been an inherent problem for women in sport, but the term ‘ladies’ takes it to a whole new level. For me, the term screams physical fragility, reinforces sexist stereotypes and depicts sportswomen as inferior to sportsmen.

“The lady boxers, jockeys and footballers of this world have bigger barriers to size up to as sportswomen - the fight for increased media coverage, having equal opportunities and the battle to change sexist perceptions.

“The word ‘lady’ works against all those aims, feeding Victorian stereotypes that seek to negate and ultimately differentiate, rather than integrate, women’s sport.”

Tomas also highlighted the fact that many English soccer teams have rebranded from ‘ladies’ to ‘women’ in recent times, a trend that was started by Manchester City in 2014. At the time, City and England captain Steph Houghton called it a “very positive name change”.

These days many sports appear to favour ‘women’ over ‘ladies’, at least in an official capacity. Notable exceptions include golf (the Ladies European Tour and the Ladies Professional Golf Association) and tennis (the Ladies’ Singles and Ladies’ Doubles at Wimbledon). Organisers of the grand old English tennis tournament do, at least, refer to the male competitors using the equivalent marker, i.e. gentlemen.

Here in Ireland, the national soccer and rugby teams are both referred to as the Irish women’s team. (In fact, speaking of rugby, the sport’s governing body has renamed the Women’s Rugby World Cup as the Rugby World Cup, removing the gender marker altogether.)

On the other hand, you also have the Ladies Gaelic Football Association and all the teams, players and competitions under their stewardship are almost exclusively referred to as ‘ladies’.

As fate would have it, I had arranged to interview the new Kerry ladies captain, Aislinn Desmond, the day after the Ladies v Women argument cropped up on my timeline. A Kerry footballer since 2009, Desmond is perhaps better placed than most to address the issue. So, did the ‘Kerry lady’ ever consider that being referred to as a ‘lady’ might be a bit old-fashioned?

“Not really,” she admits, “…until I read those comments online. Maybe because it’s called the LGFA, that’s what I’ve always grown up seeing and hearing. I never really thought about it.

“‘Ladies’ isn’t a word I’d use in my day-to-day life. Like, it is old-fashioned. When I saw the comments I did think to myself, ‘Jeez, yeah, that’s so weird’.

“But I’ve only ever known it as ‘ladies football’.”

Ideally, Desmond added, we wouldn’t need to use the terms ‘ladies football’ or ‘women’s football’ at all, it would just be Gaelic football and whether it was women’s team or a men’s team would be irrelevant.

POLL
I ran a poll on my own Instagram just to gauge the general feeling amongst my female followers and the results were interesting. 58% of the women who responded said the use of the word ‘ladies’ in sporting contexts didn’t bother them, while the remaining 42% said they would prefer to see the word ‘women’ being used.

The comments ranged from ‘incredulous that someone is complaining about it’ to ‘incredulous that female athletes are still being called ladies in 2021’. There appears to be no clear consensus, at least not amongst my modest Instagram following, although I should also point out that there were more female athletes on the ‘anti-ladies’ side than the ‘pro-’.

My male followers (who were not asked to vote but still accounted for 60% of all respondents) were almost exclusively on the ‘pro-ladies’ side. Not that it matters.

As a fellow man, it’s obviously not for me to decide whether or not ‘ladies’ is the right term to use either, but I will say that from a journalist’s perspective, it’s not really a word I write with any great enthusiasm. Like most people in 2021, I wouldn’t use ‘ladies’ in the workplace or in any professional environment for that matter, so it does seem a bit out of place.

‘Women’s football’ feels more neutral and respectful, and maybe even a little less condescending, to me than ‘ladies football’ (it should be ladies’, really, but that’s a different can of worms). Although, again, it’s not really for me to say.

 

What do you think? Is the word ‘ladies’ appropriate when it comes to sporting contexts? Email sport@killarneyadvertiser.ie and let us know where you stand. You can also follow Adam on Instagram and Twitter for all the latest talking points.

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Séamus Moynihan tops Kerry manager poll ahead of Jack O’Connor and Peter Keane

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by Adam Moynihan

Although it now appears as though he could be a selector on the Stephen Stack ticket, four-time All-Ireland winner Séamus Moynihan has topped our ‘Next Kerry Manager’ poll by collecting over one-third of the overall vote.

Around 37% of respondents said that Moynihan should be the next Kerry boss with 23% of fans backing former manager Jack O’Connor. The team’s most recent bainisteoir, Peter Keane, received 18% of the votes.

Another former manager, Eamonn Fitzmaurice, is next in line on 10%, although it is believed that he is not willing to return to the fold due to work commitments.

In addition to the four main candidates mentioned above, readers were also invited to nominate their own preferred candidate. This open field threw up 16 more names with former Kerry and Dr Crokes manager Pat O’Shea the most popular entry. The Killarney man received around 3.5% of the vote.

Donie Buckley got roughly half as many votes as O’Shea, and the other prospective managers ended up with less than 1% each.

MOYNIHAN/STACK

Glenflesk native Moynihan enjoyed a glittering playing career for The Kingdom between 1992 and 2006, the highlight perhaps coming in the year 2000 when he captained his county to All-Ireland glory. He has since taken on coaching roles with his own club and with Fossa and was part of Darragh Ó Sé’s Kerry U21 management team in 2015.

It had been suggested that Monaghan’s defensive coach Donie Buckley would be part of the Moynihan ticket. Buckley was also a member of Peter Keane’s backroom team, but Keane relieved him of his duties in the early stages of the 2020 season.

However, after this survey was completed, Tony Leen of the Irish Examiner reported that Moynihan and Buckley are, indeed, part of the same ticket, but the manager’s name attached is that of current Killarney Legion boss Stephen Stack.

Stack himself had a long and distinguished playing career with The Kingdom and as a manager led Austin Stacks to the County Championship in 2014 and Legion to an East Kerry Championship in 2019.

The Listowel native is also rumoured to be calling on Dara Ó Cinnéide and Mickey Ned O’Sullivan as selectors, with Joe O’Connor filling the role of strength and conditioning coach.

Stack was not considered to be a realistic candidate at the time of the survey; he was one of the 14 managers who received less than 1% of the vote.

KERRY SUPPORTERS SURVEY

Q: Who should be the next manager of the Kerry senior football team?

Séamus Moynihan 36.7%

Jack O’Connor  23.4%

Peter Keane 18.1%

Eamonn Fitzmaurice 10%

Pat O’Shea 3.5%

Donie Buckley 1.6%

Others* 6.7%

(Carried out online on September 21/22. 431 respondents.)

*Mike Quirke, John Sugrue, Jim McGuinness, Jim Gavin, Jerry O’Sullivan, Maurice Fitzgerald, Tomás Ó Sé, Johnny Crowley, Stephen Stack, Kieran Donaghy, John Evans, Paul Galvin, Marc Ó Sé, Liam Kearns.

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Jordan’s new role with St Paul’s

By Sean Moriarty Killarney’s Paralympic hero Jordan Lee is to take on a new role with Scott’s Lakers St Paul’s Killarney Basketball Club. Jordan began his sporting career with the local basketball club where he created history by becoming the first amputee athlete to represent their country at international level. The High Jumper then switched […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Killarney’s Paralympic hero Jordan Lee is to take on a new role with Scott’s Lakers St Paul’s Killarney Basketball Club.

Jordan began his sporting career with the local basketball club where he created history by becoming the first amputee athlete to represent their country at international level.

The High Jumper then switched to track and field and qualified for the Tokyo Paralympics where he made history by becoming the first Kerry athlete to act as a flag bearer for an opening ceremony and lead an Irish team into an Olympic Stadium.

Now back home and preparing for the next Olympics in Paris, he has returned to his first love and will join the backroom staff at the local Division One basketball club ahead of their National League campaign which begins next month.

His father Jarlath Lee is head coach with St Paul’s.

“Jordan is joining us as our strength and conditioning coach,” Jarlath told the Killarney Advertiser.

INTERNATIONALS

Meanwhile, Scott’s Lakers St Paul’s Killarney Basketball Club National League team will have a distinctive feel to it this year after securing the services of three overseas players it for the season ahead.

The club’s biggest signing is Canadian professional Ben Miller. It was originally hoped that the former two-time Manitoba Player of the Year would play for the local side last season but the pandemic got in the way and the National League was never played. However, he did play two training games this time last year before returning to Canada until travel restrictions lifted.

“He is a good guy, very approachable and very good with the young members,” Jarlath said.

The club has also signed Bulgarian International Emilian Grudov.

The 20-year-old has already represented his home country at U16, 18 and 20 level.

“He is young, athletic and very good offensively,” added Lee.

The returning Lithuanian Dianius Varanaukus completes the club international line up for the 2020/21 season.

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