What's in a name?

... a team by any other name

by Jerry Norton

This writer has enjoyed reading recent articles by Don Norris concerning the Melrose High School girls' volleyball team. These young ladies have evidently been having a long run of victories and dominance over opponents far and wide. This success has raised an interesting, however remote, possibility in my mind. I allude to the team's athletic nickname, Red Raiders. If memory serves correctly, other high school teams in the Greater Boston area have sobriquets which are less threatening ... Medford Mustangs, Arlington Spy Ponders, Woburn Tanners, even the Malden Golden Tornado, come to mind.

None of these names are intended to strike fear into the hearts of opponents -- but a girls' team known as the "Red Raiders"... really! Now a name like that may well be appropriate for a boys' football or ice hockey team because, as we all know, boys are roughnecks by nature. The passage of Title IX was not intended to rob a girls' sport team of its femininity. This photo by Don Norris of these pony–tailed youngsters belies the belief that they could inflict harm on anyone.  

With this thought in mind, could it be that opponents of the Melrose team are intimidated, even traumatized, before they step onto the court to contend with girls who are given to raiding? Could they be thinking, "if we don't succumb to them on the court will they then sack and plunder our home villages? Will they put our towns to the fire and the sword if we dare contest their athletic superiority?"

This writer feels that there should be a leveling of the playing field by changing the team name (for girls' teams only) to something more appropriate. Several possible names come to mind toward removing the psychological advantage which the team now enjoys. Here are two names which might be considered: the Melrose "Muffins" or Melrose "Maidens." Those names have a nice ring to them and are good examples of English language alliteration.

Or, better still, how about the Melrose "Mesdemoiselles?" Wouldn't this be gender perfect and bear with it a nice touch of old-world class?

December 7, 2012

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