Pretty, aren't they? What struck me, though, was the difference in the emblems of the Men's winning banners and the Women's winning banners. Here are the two competing emblems from 2004, the year both the UConn Men's basketball team and Women's basketball team won the NCAA National Championship:
The Men's banner just says "NCAA Final Four"; the Women's banner explicitly says "NCAA Women's Final Four". This goes directly to what Habladora was saying in her Gender and Profession: Lady Doctors and Male Nurses post. Men are considered the norm when it comes to basketball players. Therefore, the banner doesn't have to explicitly say "Men", because when someone says "basketball player", we generally think of a man. In certain cases, like lady doctors and male nurses, I generally think we should leave gender out of the discussion, because it is a signifier of something out of the ordinary. It doesn't help change who we picture as doctors or nurses; it just modifies the automatic picture that appears at the mention of "doctor" or "nurse". For something like a Final Four appearance, though, I think we should take a different tactic.
It is a competition, and two separate ones. For that reason, I would like for both the men's Final Four emblem and the women's Final Four emblem to indicate gender. Because right now, it seems as though the ungendered Final Four is the "real" Final Four, and the women's Final Four is an afterthought or less of a concern. And that is true; outside of Connecticut and Tennessee, many women's college basketball teams struggle to gain an audience; and women's teams in general can still suffer at schools like UConn and Tennessee, schools that have one outstanding women's program but whose other programs don't obtain that excellence year after year. Although I'm into language and words and how language and words shape our world and our lives, I wouldn't go so far as to say that making the gendered distinctions among Final Fours will suddenly revolutionize women's sports and make them as recognized and popular and respected as men's sports. But I do think it will help, even just a little bit, even just mostly subconsciously. Because even though it is a little thing, the little things add up; and although the wording on a sports championship banner is a very little thing, it is a representation of the gendered aspect in sports and other professions.