Object Lessons: Rantings of a Lone Pamphleteer
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Is that Cheering?

Because I was born in Texas, and because my dad's family all rooted for the Houston Oilers, I was a moderate Oilers fan right up until they became the Tennessee Oilers (later Titans).

It was a mild shock, one that didn't affect me much at the time because I didn't follow football. It wasn't until Jon asked if I would give up rooting for the Cowboys (at the time, the only Texan team), that I gave it any thought at all. Love and negotiation won: he agreed to boycott Exxon with me because of their horrid environmental record, and I became a 'Skins fan by marriage. (FYI the Cowboys and Redskins have a long rivalry.) At the time it seemed a small sacrifice, and I had only a small regret in giving up my only remaining home-state team in favor of a happy marriage.

Now, though, I'm glad I kicked Dallas to the curb. After seeing several seasons of the 'Skins, and watching the so-called First "Ladies" of Professional Football increase their hip rotations while downsizing their uniform, it's obvious that Dallas began a "cheerleading" debacle which has degraded into an autumn-weekend spectacle. At the most recent 'Skins game, I tweeted about how the Redskins Cheerleaders danced as if they wanted a pole, and dressed as if they had one. Does anyone think these women are cheering, or inciting cheers from their crowd? Judging by the number of 'Skins fans booing their own team at the last game, I'd say the cheerleaders have zero effect.

Today's NFL cheerleaders are more dance troupes than cheerleaders. The cheerleaders I knew in high school and university were dedicated athletes who risk more danger than the players on the field. (I recently saw a Myth Busters episode where they proved a fall from a basket toss to the ground hit the athlete with greater pressure than a player getting tackled on the field.) These men and women are gymnasts, dancers, and entertainers, plus they wear moderately modest clothing. I'm unclear if NFL cheerleaders can do an aerial or splits; certainly not in those outfits, which appear to have been erroneously ordered from a lingerie catalog. I seriously think even a cartwheel would be beyond the capacity of those halter-bras and Daisy Dukes. Look around the NFL, and all the home-team cheerleaders are in similarly styled clothing. Dallas' Cheerleaders, who started it all, have recently been out-sassed if not outclassed by every other team's cheerleaders.

But today I heard something stupendous, which puts the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleading squad back in a leadership position for the degradation of women in professional sports arenas. The owners have certainly upped the game in the new Dallas stadium, which reportedly includes "cage dancers" to entertain the SRO crowds in the nosebleeds.

Now, these women are not in literal cages; they are contained in what appear more like a ship's crow's nest, if you ask me. But placing these scantily clad women among the drunken hordes of "real fans" opens the door to a strip-club mentality. What's next? Drunk "fans" stuffing dollars down the dancers G's while they gyrate?

One of the greatest regrets I recall hearing from my cheering friends is how they would have to give it up -- the tumbling, the excitement, the crowds, the exercise, the camaraderie -- once they graduated. There is no place for them to continue their sport into their 20's. I'd love to see an NFL or NBA team field a truly professional squad of 50 experienced cheerleaders who know how to build a human pyramid and rally a crowd, rather than hiring women whose sole athletic talent appears to be their ability to shake it without busting through their costumes. Perhaps the overly wealthy NFL could create more family-friendly entertainment by spending some of its billions to hire full-time, professional cheerleaders from some of the winning university squads.

I've wondered why they don't, about 10 times per year for the last 6 years.



Comments:
Those "cage dancers" are not the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (DCC). They are a separate group not affiliated with the DCC. And the DCC have not been outsassed or outclassed by anyone. They are ambassadors of goodwill who have entertained the troops on USO tours more than any other entertainment entity. They have their own television series (DCC - Making the Team) on CMT. The fourth season starts next month. The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders also do community service, bringing cheer to hospitalized children and the elderly. They are a class organization that has stood the test of time. Their uniform is much more conservative than what other pro cheerleaders wear. They are indeed America's Sweethearts. Just wanted to add some facts to your little tirade.
 
All points well taken. Thanks for the comments. You provide a balanced viewpoint to my thoughts.

I particularly appreciate the fact that the DCC members volunteer and perform good works. And those costumes cover slightly more than others around the league, but are still far from modest. Although I appreciate your comments, I must point out that the Cowboys' organization has increased its objectification of women with these new cage dancers.
 
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