Lady Cats Basketball / Bobcat Women’s Basketball

So are the known as the Lady Cat’s or the Bobcat Women? Well the official answer in Bozeman is the Bobcat Women’s team. In Missoula, though, it is the Lady Griz. When I attended MSU in the early 80’s the women’s basketball team at MSU was known as the Lady Cat’s basketball team, just like the Griz. It was way until the turn of the century. Sometime during former Bobcat women’s head coach Robin Potera’s tenure it was decided that the Lady Cat’s would from then on, would be know as, The Bobcat Women’s Basketball (alternately The Montana State Women’s Basketball) team. At the time, if memories serve me right, we were told that the women athletes at Montana State asked and voted for this name change. I have been told, though, that Potera was a driving force behind it. Now being somewhat of an enlightened man (although my ex-wife may disagree) I understood some of the reasons behind it. The “Lady Cats” term, somewhat marginalizes the team as not quite at the level as the men’s teams, and the term Montana State is never really used in conduction with the term “Lady Cat’s. Those on the other side will say it actually set the women up in there own “special” category and identity from the men. For my own part when it was announced all I cared was if the players wanted the change, I was all for it. Whether they saw it as an equity issue or simply a better name, I had no problem with it.

While Potera was coach, it was “The Montana State Women’s Basketball” and she would correct you, if you said the “Lady Cat’s, and I know this because she corrected me at a booster function. Since, Potera left / fired / not rehired, though, I have noticed that Lady Cat’s creeping back into the MSU vocabulary. This year when I was down for the Cat/Griz game I could have sworn I heard one of the MSU officials (Gamble or Fields refer) refer to them as the Lady Cats, and on the way out of the field house I also noticed a sign in the basketball office that said “Lady Cats”. I just got the feeling that no one seemed to care, it is kind of a Potato vs. potato (that does not work so well in written form). The other day I decided I wanted to find out, and get to the bottom of this so I contacted a couple people I know (and I use that term loosely) in the athletic department and asked them “Lady Cats” or “Bobcat Women”. I was told by both sources, yes it is officially the Bobcat Women, but we don’t mind if you say Lady Cats.

Do I have a point? Well yea kind of. Look if the women’s basketball team (or volleyball or track, or rodeo) wants to be called the Montana State Women’s team I have no problem, I support them 100%. That is what they should be called, no questions asked, and I will shut up, period. If they are ambivalent or actually like the term “Lady Cats” then you really should reconsider going back to it, for no other reason that marketing.

Right this moment, if got in my car and drove down to Target or Wal-Mart (if I shopped at Wal-Mart) and I could guarantee you with in 2 minutes of being there I will see at least one Lady Griz sweat shirt /t-shirt, and by the time I left I would have seen dozens. Next time you are in Missoula look for yourself. Now how many walking around Bozeman do you see Montana State Bobcat Women’s sweat shirts? I can not remember ANY. While it is true that a lot of women’s fans will simply purchase standard MSU gear, I would argue that with there own brand the women would sell more. I say that based on my experience here in Missoula, but also when you really look at who the women’s fans are. The men may have more fans that attend games (not by much though), the women’s fans are much more devoted. Over all I would argue that the women’s fans are much more invested in the program, and they like to show it. I hate to bring up the cliché of “tough economic times” but I think it is appropriate, to point out that for Bobcat women’s sports (and I am not limiting this to basketball) there is an opportunity to use the term as an asset to the program(s) and not a negative as it has been thought of in the past. I think you guy’s in Marketing refer to it as branding, and creating new revenue streams. The Women’s basketball boosters are a very unique demographic among the over all bobcat boosters and I think this is a way to reflect that.

Again though if the players (and notice I did not say coaches or administration) feels strongly about the more politically correct term than I will shut my mouth.


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