"...Mighty are the ones who wear the purple and the gold..."
"The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
And the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee."
-Lord Byron's "Destruction of Sennacherib"
The name Huskies and the regal colors of Purple and Gold probably don't immediately come together in your mind, but UW's colors were voted on by the student body in 1896. The Purple and Gold color scheme, taken from Lord Byron's poem above, predates the Husky nickname by a decade or more.
Men, Women, or Ones?
"Bow Down to Washington" has gone through numerous lyrical changes in its 106 year history. In its latest iterations, references to the University of California-Berkeley Golden Bears were removed and the gender of the "the purple and the gold" was changed from men to the neutral ones.
"As times change it’s certainly anticipated that a symbol of such consequence would evolve." Lynn Borland, '66, writes "Dedicated to the spirit of the amazing women of the Women’s Rally Committee of 1915, the first verse “men” and “boys” in the chorus have been replaced with gender neutral “teams.” (University of Washington Magazine, 2014)
When the UW Huskies women's basketball team made the Final Four in 2016, ESPN ran an article about the gender of the fight song.
"The most familiar line in the Washington Huskies fight song is "Mighty are the men who wear the purple and the gold.'' Jim Caple, sports writer covering Husky sports for ESPN and the Athletic, explains "The women who wear the purple and the gold have been just as mighty, though. If not mightier." (ESPN, 2016)
Thus, Caple opines: "In other words, perhaps the lyrics should be changed to "Mighty are the women who wear the purple and the gold.''
"I think that would cause a lot of problems, but I'm all for it. I'll start singing it that way if that will help,'' senior forward Talia Walton said. "I feel like 'men' is such a generalization, and if you change it to 'women' then you'll have the football players and the men's basketball team saying, 'What?'''" (ESPN, 2016)
The gender neutral "ones" has seemingly not fully been embraced by the larger sports community. As "Mighty are the Men" is much more common and is emblazoned across the lower wall of Husky Stadium.
As, perhaps, a pointed response to the lyrics "Mighty are the Men" the UW Huskies Softball team, one of the strongest programs in the country, has made "Mighty are the Women" their ongoing slogan, covering not only their web presence but across the outfield wall of the softball stadium.