From PowderPuff to ASB Olympics: why the name change?

Photo Caption: A photo of the ASB Olympic women’s flag football game on October 17. ASB recently changed the name of this event from PowderPuff to ASB Olympics, a decision that has had mixed reactions. Photo by Ruby Conrad.

PowderPuff and PowderTuff are traditions within high schools and colleges where the traditional genders of sports are flipped; girls play flag football and boys play volleyball. This tradition hasn’t been skipped by Franklin High School, but this year Franklin’s PowderPuff and PowderTuff games were changed to the ASB Olympics. Franklin’s ASB President Fiona Jahoda (12) gives some reasoning behind the name change.

“We thought that this was an issue because it’s a little bit sexist,” Jahoda says. “The names PowderPuff and PowderTuff imply that girls are light and frilly and guys are tough.” The idea of having girls flag football be represented with the word “puff” does seem a bit antiquated. Because of this, ASB decided to change the name to ASB Olympics. “My senior year as ASB president, I decided to change it completely and ASB as a whole agreed with me,” says Jahoda.

ASB didn’t change the name only because of its sexist connotations. “We also changed it to ASB Olympics because we’re adding kickball. It’s going to be for everybody, not just for guys or just for girls. So that’s also why we changed it to ASB Olympics, or we would have to find a new name for that too.” If ASB had kept PowderPuff and PowderTuff, they would need to find another name for their new kickball branch. Changing it to a neutral name makes it easier, because everything is under one umbrella and is more inclusive to all genders.

Although Jahoda seems enthusiastic about the new name, some aren’t so happy. “I don’t think [the name change] was necessary at all,” says an anonymous ASB Olympic flag football player. “I don’t think that people felt bothered by it. I feel like PowderPuff has more meaning, like the Powerpuff Girls.” The comparison of the PowerPuff Girls and a women’s flag football game isn’t too far off; both have girls doing a traditionally “manly” activities and kicking butt while doing so. So it is understandable that some people might be upset about the name change. This same sentiment is shared by other ASB Olympic players. “I like PowderPuff better. I get how some other females could take it in a sexist way, but I don’t,” says another anonymous flag football player. “But, for things to be fair, [ASB Olympics] is fine with me.” 

A lot of people like the ones interviewed feel a similar way about the ASB Olympics — apathy and negativity were the most common responses when asked for opinions on the name change. But it makes sense once ASB adds kickball. Keeping the names neutral makes it easier to advertise and much less gendered than PowderPuff and PowderTuff. But, with either name, the game is the same. The women’s flag football game ended in a tie on October 17, and the men’s volleyball games are scheduled for March 13. Come and support your fellow Lightning!

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