To The University of Tennessee Athletic Department,
I am writing as a former University of Tennessee swimmer, and current Lady Volunteer, with strong encouragement that the athletic department keep the Lady Vol logo and colors. As a swimmer at UT, from 2000-2002, I was incredibly proud to wear the orange and baby blue symbol, and to call myself not just a Vol, but a Lady Vol. I loved being a part of a school that specifically lifted up women in their competitive gifts and contributions to the NCAA and the world of sports.
I have heard that, due to the merging of the men’s and women’s athletic department, some have seen the move to one logo to be a unifying factor for all athletes at Tennessee. My concern, however, is the lack of care taken to consider the major flaw in this premise. I’m not entirely sure how wearing one logo would unify all athletes, but even if it could, the department has not chosen a new, neutral logo, but rather to lump the female athletes under the current men’s logo of the Power T.
To me, this seems like a huge step backward in the hard work of efforts like Title 9, which served to help female athletes make a place for themselves at this and other schools. Forcing the women to take on what has clearly been deemed as the men’s logo, asks them to give up their identity as proud female athletes, and again to fall into the male-centered structure that the rest of the world continues to hand to them. Wouldn’t it be amazing if Tennessee looked more forward-thinking than the rest of the country, or at least caught up to those who already are, by empowering women to be strong and independent?
Even worse, the makers of this decision have chosen the basketball team to keep the Lady Vol colors and logo. If the goal was unification, why would one choose to single out the basketball team? How is it unifying to make them different than the rest of the athletic department? How unfair to put those women in that position. That logic is completely flawed.
The only conclusion that I can draw from keeping the basketball team separate is that the whole thing is based on money. If that’s the case, wouldn’t income be much bigger if there were two choices of logo? And more importantly, wouldn’t more little girls in Tennessee buy Lady Vol gear, in the hopes that they might grow up to wear that proud and rich historied emblem as athletes themselves?
I think UT has missed the mark here. I’m sad to see that the legacy that many of us are a part of might be completely ignored. I’m all for change, but this doesn’t seem to be a change in the right direction for women or the University of Tennessee. Please listen to the many voices of those who have proudly worn the orange and baby blue and reconsider this decision.
The Reverend Amy Stewart
University of Tennessee Swimmer, 2000-2002
Lady Volunteer for Life