OK, the title is a little extreme, but Mike and Toni are in agreement about this:-
I was writing something the other day about American sports, and I went off on a bit of a rant tangent when I got to Cheerleaders. I can't stand anything about cheer-leading, and it's HUGE here.
For Pete's sake people – it's the 21st century. Why are we encouraging females to stand around half-dressed, cheering on the sidelines while their hunky male peers are on the field/pitch/court gaining all the glory? (OK, I know some cheer-leading squads have males in them, but they make-up about 0.1%.)
Second – it's extremely dangerous. According to Wiki, of the US's 2.9 million female High School athletes, only 3% are cheerleaders yet cheer-leading accounts for 65% of catastrophic injuries among those girls. I certainly wouldn't be wanting my daughter at the top of those human pyramids.
Third – it's dangerous because of some of the whack-jobs and the lengths they will go thru to win, or score a place on the team. Anyone remember the 1981 incident of Wanda Holloway, now known as the "Texas Cheer-leader-Murdering-Mom" after she hired a hit man to kill the mother of her daughter's rival for a place on the squad?
Fourth – it's dangerous, according to a Texas politician, who, in 2005 sponsored a bill (affectionately known as "The Booty Bill") that would outlaw sexually suggestive cheer-leading routines at school events. (Good luck with that.) Not so much because it was demeaning to women, or inappropriate for the audience age, oh no. Because it would lead to "pregnancies, high school dropouts (and the) contraction of AIDS and herpes." Correct me if I'm wrong, but if these girls are being provocative and end up pregnant or carrying a yucky disease, isn't there usually a guy involved somewhere along the way?
Oh yeah – and they're really, really irritating!
But I couldn't help laughing when I read that there are an estimated 100,000 participants outside the USA now.
Actually, Toni and I are not in total agreement on this: I think cheerleading is wrong on so many levels (no, all of them) in Britain, but I think it belongs in America. In fact, I think cheerleading belongs to America; it is embedded in its fabric, it embodies the very soul of what America is all about and it gives the girlfriends of high school athletes something to do.
Cheerleading is loud, brassy, glitzy and entertaining without providing any real value—like a McHappy Meal or a weekend in Disney World—and what could be more American than that?
No, I think that cheerleading and America go hand-in-pompom (that’s not a euphemism) and the American Experience would be poorer without it. So keep on cheering, America, and hang on to those cheerleaders, please, and stop them from infecting the rest of the world.
So, yeah, we have cheerleaders over here now. Not a lot, and not as in-your-face as at a Dallas Cowboy's game, but they are starting to creep in, and it is giving me, well, the creeps.
The soccer team I periodically go see play—the Brighton and Hove Ablion Seagulls—have cheerleaders. They are called Gully’s Girls, a reference to the team’s Seagull-outfitted mascot known as Gully (apparently these girls are his harem), and they have performed at every game I have seen.
On the plus side, it gives the local gals something to do other than hang around the high street yakking on their mobile phones; god knows the youth here could use some diversions of the non-violent and non-alcohol induced variety, so good on them, they started a cheerleading squad.
But that’s like opening up a quilting shop in the Sudan: it’s unnecessary, out of place and no one needs or wants it. For their efforts, the squad gets to parade around the pitch prior to the games, smile and shake their pompoms at the crowd (no, that’s not a euphuism, either) while collectively looking like a group of girls who were gathered up off of the high street, dressed in matching tee shirts and plunked down on a soccer field. They seem to know that they are there to do something, but they are not quite sure what it is.
At half-time, they’re allowed to gyrate to popular music in the middle of the field while the fans stock up on more sausage rolls or queue up for the loo. They are [ad mode]
as I have noted in my highly acclaimed and hilarious book, More Postcards From Across the Pond [/ad mode] like ants at a picnic: mildly annoying, not supposed to be there, but generally harmless.
So we clearly do not need cheerleaders here, and while cheerleading incidents remain, for the time being, sporadic and local, there is always the chance that they may enter into the national scene, which would be just so, so wrong, and so un-British. I probably shouldn’t worry—the WAGS (wives and girls friends) are already celebrities over here, so they aren’t going to bother putting a squad together. The real danger is from random, amateur exhibitionists who delight in scandalous behavior in front of the entire nation. Keeping them out of British sport may require bringing back Big Brother, but if that’s what it takes to keep the nation cheerleader-free, I’d be willing to make that sacrifice. It would be for the greater good.
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