Georgia Bulldogs v. Washington Huskies: It's a Dawg Eat Dawg Tournament!

All right, this "Dawg" thing is getting out of hand.

If fans of the Washington Huskies want to refer to their team as "Dawgs," that’s fine; I even understand the rationale of wanting to use a synonym that allows them to emphasize the "W," although that strikes me as bending over backwards to secure a "Sesame Street"-style letter-specific sponsorship for a mascot designation that, as The984 correctly pointed out, involves a breed of dog, but not the word "dog."

It makes sense for fans of the Alabama Crimson Tide to yell, "Roll Tide!" Likewise, there is logic behind a fan of the Tennessee Volunteers yelling, "Go Vols!" or, naturally, a fan of the Georgia Bulldogs yelling (phonetically), "Go ’Dawgs!" Fans of the Boston College Eagles, Oregon Ducks, and South Carolina Gamecocks, however, do not yell generically, "Go Birds!" Partisans of the Arkansas Razorbacks, Colorado Buffaloes, and Texas Longhorns do not exhort broadly, "Go Livestock!" No one who roots for the Cincinnati Bearcats, Kansas Jayhawks, or Virginia Tech Hokies shouts out: "Go Fictitious Amalgamations Found Nowhere in Nature!" You will never hear calls of support for all secondary colors, the entire ecclesiastical hierarchy, or all individuals who are not sui juris from boosters of the Syracuse Orange, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, and UTEP Miners, respectively. The Huskies’ use of synecdoche is, therefore, highly unusual, but, by employing a Southerner’s typical brand of tolerance (read: indifference to the weird things folks in other places choose to do), I could’ve lived with it, though thinking it odd.

What pushed this over the top for me, though, was the above use by the University of Washington’s official athletics website of the terms "Dawgs" (for the Huskies) and "Dogs" (for the Bulldogs). For one thing, it’s just rude; being big believers in Southern hospitality, we don’t do that sort of thing, as evidenced by this headline from the official University of Georgia athletics website:

(Please note, for whatever it might be worth, that the URL of the Washington website refers to the Huskies, whereas the URL of the Georgia website refers to the ‘Dogs, spelling it correctly, not phonetically, of course; after all, these are professionals. If an organization is going to refer to one of the two mascots colloquially, though, it should not call the Huskies "Dawgs" and deny that term to the Red and Black; I would grudgingly accept it as correct to refer to both in that manner, but, if it’s going to be one and not the other, clearly, Georgia’s claim to the name is far superior to Washington’s.)

Let’s forget the fact that the University of Georgia was chartered more than three-quarters of a century before the University of Washington was founded, and that classes had been held in Athens for 60 years on the day the Seattle institution opened its doors (although, by the time the Territorial University of Washington began educating students on November 4, 1861, the University of Georgia student body largely was engaged in more arduous pursuits outside the classroom); let’s forget the fact that U-Dub’s sports teams were known as the Sun Dodgers until 1922, two years after the "Bulldog" moniker was affixed permanently to the Red and Black and more than two decades after the Athenians’ canine nickname was employed initially; can we just focus on the fact that they don’t talk like us in the Pacific Northwest?

"Dawg" is the phonetic spelling of how a Southerner says "dog." (It has always struck me that, while "dog" spelled backwards is the name commonly associated with the Almighty, the Southern pronunciation of "dog"---dawg---spelled backwards is the northern pronunciation of the familiar name used when referring to the Creator; think of Chandler Bing’s on-again/off-again girlfriend from "Friends," Janice Litman Goralnick, née Hosenstein, uttering in nasal elongated fashion the phrase typically abbreviated "OMG.")

In other parts of the country, they don’t pronounce "dog" dawg, they pronounce it dahg, so that it rhymes with "log" (which, according to Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion, they do a lot of in that region of the country). In the Cascadian English spoken in the Pacific Northwest, including the state of Washington, speakers pronounce vowels in such a way that "cot" and "caught" become homophones, and "aw" is conflated with "ah." (When the issue of vowel sounds arose, I naturally consulted NCT for his thoughts upon the subject, and he pointed me in the direction of a helpful map.)

In noting the foregoing, I am not knocking the way anyone else speaks (though I’ll be getting to that momentarily), but it seems fair to assert that, if you can’t say the nickname, you can’t claim the nickname. Washington has no more basis for calling the Huskies "Dawgs" than Georgia has for calling the Bulldogs "Dahgs"; those phonetic renditions simply are not accurate reflections of the ways in which the respective fan bases speak.

Before, I just wanted to see my team win a basketball game for the sake of seeing my team win a basketball game; now, I want the Red and Black to defeat the Purple and Gold so that all right-thinking---and, more to the point, right-speaking---people will know, and all wrong-thinking people will learn, who are, and who are not, the ‘Dawgs.

I don’t even have to use the phrase here, do I? Well, I will, anyway:

Go ‘Dawgs!

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