We’ve got spirit, yes we do

How did “cheerleading” evolve from this

ny-fredonia1932-_0001r_preview

or this

JohnBapst_heel

or this

Penn State Cheer Squad 2007

to… this??

RosterHeader

Because at last night’s Redskins/Steelers preseason game, those ladies on the sidelines? Were not doing so much of this:

Cheerleading is a sport[1] that uses organized routines that range from 1 minute to 3 minutes made from elements of tumbling, dance, jumps, cheers, and stunting to direct spectators of events to cheer on sports teams at games and matches and/or compete at cheerleading competitions. Cheerleaders draw attention to the event and encourage audience participation. The athlete involved is called a cheerleader.

…as they were doing THIS:

A striptease is an erotic or exotic dance in which the performer gradually undresses, either partly or completely, in a seductive and sexually suggestive manner.[1] The person who performs a striptease is commonly known as a “stripper” or exotic dancer.

Except that their costumes were so small, there really wouldn’t have been much to remove.

Now, I’m no prude, but if the point of cheerleading is to lead cheers, then why are these hotties bumping and grinding suggestively on the sidelines of an NFL game? I mean, aren’t we there to support our team? Don’t we need encouragement to stay involved in the actual game so the players get fired up? Or are we there to watch a bunch of long-haired exotic dancers shakin’ their tight little booties and big firm boobies? Because the crowd seemed to respond more to the likes of this

james-harrison

… than to anything the “cheerleaders” were doing.

I acknowledge that high school cheerleading is, in fact, a sport. The acrobatic stunts and tricks require lots of practice. The participants have to be fit and agile.  And I suppose one could make a case that in that way, what’s called cheerleading in high school is loosely linked, like a shirttail cousin, with what’s called “cheerleading” in the NFL:

DCC squad2008

I mean, if you’re there to watch a football game, that’s great. But if you’re there to watch the “cheerleaders” then say so.  But let’s not kid ourselves here: There’s really no leading of cheers happening.

Now, I know what you’re thinking:  When these “cheerleaders” begin suffering the symptoms of aging – the sagging, the wrinkling, the drooping – who will carry on this fine tradition, this rich legacy, this value-added component of the Total NFL Experience?

Well, the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders are working on that! They have a junior “cheerleading” program called the FIRST LITTLE LADIES OF FOOTBALL (yes, way), and these pre-pubescent girls took the field at halftime last night and demonstrated that, with practice, they’ll soon master the suggestive grinding and shaking of their adult “mentors” so that they can one day work the pole carry on this important part of the Washington Redskins NFL Product:

first little ladies of football

When grown women do it, it’s distracting at best. But when preteens do it? It’s appalling, for any number of reasons.

What was happening on the sidelines at the Redskins game last night was not cheerleading.  What it was was titillating, suggestive dancing, and I found it distracting.  Most of the girls seemed to be more concerned with achieving just the right posture than with anything that was happening on the field. Their canned routines didn’t even match up to the music – I mean, pelvic thrusts and booty-grind to “Smoke on the Water” or Peter Gabriel’s “Big Time”? Please.

I’m not necessarily opposed to this kind of dancing. However, I suggest that it has its place, but that the place for it is not the sidelines of an NFL game.  So go ahead, serve up the striptease if you think that’s important, but don’t insult the fans by calling it cheerleading.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna watch some football.

96 thoughts on “We’ve got spirit, yes we do

  1. Yep they didn’t fit in at the game at all. Maybe the rationale is to “encourage” casual football fans to attend? If so, that’s not working either, judging from the half-empty stadium (and noting that at least half of the fans who WERE there were Steelers fans). The Redskins should focus on putting a better “football” team on the “football” field one of these years; that’s also a pretty good way to draw fans. One can go elsewhere for that other kind of entertainment.

    By the way, the Steelers don’t have “cheerleaders” and have sold out every game for decades. We actually go to the games to watch football. When you win, you don’t need sideshows.

  2. Scott and I had a similar conversation about how useless the “cheerleaders” are just this week. Does anyone really spend a ton of $$ to come to a game and watch the cheerleaders?

    As a woman, I think it’s embarrassing and I would bet you that 9 out of 10 guys don’t even notice the cheerleaders.

    So, the question is, why are they there? What purpose do they serve other than to perpetuate the notion that if you aren’t a size 2 with 36DD’s, long flowing hair and white teeth, you are less. It is such a double standard. They are showing young boys that you can grow up to be a strong athelete and young girls you can grow up to make yourself attractive for others to ogle.

    This past week on NFL Network they were actually showing reruns from a 2005 Dolphins Cheerleader reality type selection show. Seriously, that’s the best programming you can come up with during pre-season?

    Ok, I’ll jump off my soapbox now :)

    1. Richelle, no need to jump off! If you look at the NFL cheerleaders’ websites, the sidebar ads are about beauty, they all have swimsuit (?!) calendars, and I could go on and on. It’s so not about “cheering.” And they’re just reinforcing the stereotypes with the “junior cheerleaders.”

  3. I think Hooters is behind it! And I’ll guarantee you most of the talented high school cheerleaders wouldn’t make the pro team. Obviously athletic ability has little to do with becoming a Redskins/Cowboys/etc. cheerleader!

  4. You really do not want me to talk about cheerleading OR Hooters, they are both very sore subjects with me, but you pretty much hit the nail on the head with the comparison to a strip tease.

    My children now start laughing every time we see a Hooters restaurant because they’ve memorized the lecture I give on the subject. And while their chicken wings may well be awesome, it will be a cold day in hell before I go find out what they taste like.

    I always say when they make a place called Peckers I might loosen my stance a little, but I don’t see that happening anytme soon….

    Signed,
    Not Prudish, Just Not For Encouraging and Supporting Degrading Behavior

    1. Good news! (sort of, I guess) I was in OC last week and actually saw a place called Big Pecker’s along the strip. Didn’t go inside, so can’t speak for the decor, but I sure hope they don’t serve hot dogs.

      On the other topic – totally agree that professional cheerleading reminds me of that other, um older “profession.” Nothing athletic about these babes rolling their pompons and grinding the invisible pole. No cheers are being led…I doubt that most of them have more than a passing knowledge of the rules of the game or what’s happening on the field.

      I suspect their raison d’etre is to support the inference that they are part of the “compensation package” for these big, strong, meaty men who do battle on the gridiron. Art, or should I say Athletics, mimics life. They are the eqiuvalent of the trophy bride for the successful man.

      Sad, sad news for our daughters in this day and age. Happily, you don’t see much of them on TV. and even more happily, my daughter just made the JV soccer team at Churchill, so she will be PLAYING football, not gyrating to it for the benefit of the boys.

      AMEN!

      1. True Alison – although I hear that there’s a strict code of “look but don’t touch” between the “cheerleaders” and the athletes. And they enforce it. Chris Cooley’s now-wife was fired from the squad because of it. (But she did get the guy in the end – I’d probably make that compromise.)

        Looking forward to your daughter’s athletic conquests ON the field (as opposed to on the sidelines)!

  5. CBW–I’ll be right behind you in line at “Peckers”. The thing that bugs me the most about Hooters is that on the very few times I’ve been there, I have wanted to tell the “servers” that their shorts were so dang short that I could see the reinforced fabric from their pantyhose…you know that darker part of the pantyhose where the sheer fabric ends… seeing that is NOT sexy.

    For the two steps forward we take, we take way more than three back with the influx of all the “enhancement” surgeries that are going on these days. Who decided that all woman would be better off with huge boobs? I remember when I was little and I would put my Mom’s bras on my head like a cap …yep, she wore a 42DD naturally…and I swore I’d never want boobs that big because of the comments men made and the pain they caused her. As I have aged and subsequently gained weight, my bosom has blossomed, bringing a sore back and uncomfortable undergarments. So, can anybody tell me why everybody wants big boobs?

  6. Richelle, I am so happy with my “nearly A” cup. No kidding.

    Meg: the FIRST LITTLE LADIES OF FOOTBALL ?? That’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard. As if the “cheerleaders” weren’t bad enough.

  7. Meg, I’m riding the Metro this morning, reading the Post Express when I get to one of my favorite sections, the Blog Log, and….the Soup is there! This cheerleaders post is quoted and noted!

    Congrats to you, my friend!

    1. OMG, thanks for the heads-up – I usually dodge the Express-Pushers at Metro because I carry a book. Now I’ll have to run out and find a copy!

      Welcome, Express readers!

  8. Meg,

    All I can say is that real football teams…like the Steelers do NOT have cheerleaders (as Curt indicated). Poser teams, like the Cowboys and others do.

    Real football means football and not pole dancing. Good job with the post!

    Karl

  9. Meg..were you the shy ugly fat girl in high school that no one paid any attention to? Post a picture of yourself and let us judge you since you are quick to judge these ladies.

    1. She didn’t judge the ladies, Tom, she judged the very concept of having writhing “cheerleaders” on the sideline of NFL games.

      “Post a picture of yourself and let us judge you…” HA! What a jerk. Is this how you treat women?

      Rock on, Meg!

    1. Your stinging wit skill at the rhetorical leaves no room for argument, good sir. One can only hope that you are, perhaps, a Scout master or Little Coach or Big Brother and are thus able to bestow your refined grade of misogyny upon the next generation. Hear hear!

      1. Bless you all, my friends. In hindsight I wish I hadn’t let this comment through, but your responses made it worth it.

  10. Right on sister, right on! as the mother of a former high school cheer star, I would be absolutely appalled if she went on to do something like this…thank God she is in molecular biology and not soon to be stripper 101.

    1. Tom and Ugly: Nope, not jealous. I don’t judge the ladies themselves – I know they work hard at their skills and I agree, they’re all hot and look great! I’m just saying that what they do is misplaced at an NFL game, especially considering they are called “cheerleaders.” They don’t Lead Cheers. They dance suggestively. I don’t think that encourages the boys on the field to score, and I have to believe it’s a distraction to the fans.

    1. No doubt it is, to the casual fan. But to a real fan of the game, there’s no need for sideline distractions. Especially when your team puts a product on the field that’s worth your full attention.

  11. Clearly these ladies are doing something right considering the Redskins Cheerleaders and YES the FIRST LADIES OF FOOTBALL are the most requested NFL cheerleaders for USO tours. Performing and entertaining OUR military men and women. Not to mention the ladies attend hundreds of promotional events in the metropolitan area; including visiting the wounded soliders and Walter Reed, etc.
    And for all you haters!!!!….These ladies are all defined, intellegent young women, including lawyers and medical students on the current squad. So… don’t be so quick to judge something you obviously don’t know anything about. Funny how only the less fortunate and much less attractive and even older women always seem to be the ones with something negative to say. Find a man, a better job, a hobby…or any reason to let go of all the built up negativity!!!
    And I’ll leave all you judgemental people with something to think about…SERIOUSLY, think about it!…

    “Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.”

    1. I think you make a very good point regarding the entertainment value of these ladies at events like USO shows, but such entertainment could easily be found elsewhere. It’s hardly a necessary component of a football game.

      And I’ve yet to see anyone judge the women themselves. Apparently we’re ALL great minds (except Tom) because we’re discussing ideas! Woot!

  12. As a close friend of a former cheerleader I think you all are being incredibly judgmental by assuming these ladies are a bunch of untalented want-to-be strippers. The feminist movement occurred so women would be given a choice in the paths they choose; who are you to judge one for choosing to use their dancing ability and physical strengths to be a part of an NFL team where one has arguably the best seats in the house? The girls on this team are not just physically beautiful but also are lawyers, engineers, science teachers, and business owners.

    Many women train and take hours of dance class ever week so that they have a chance to be a part of something like this. I think they deserve a little more respect for putting in hours each week

    And as to why the cheerleaders in the NFL are more “dancers” than cheerleaders; I assume it is because the NFL is more of a show, its entertainment, it is in place for profit, and as much as you all probably don’t want to admit it, sex sells. Why do all college teams have marching bands that contribute to “leading the crowd” and NFL teams don’t? (The Redskins is one of the only teams that has a live band). The NFL is a business, it is profit driven. It is not college or high school.

    And just FYI- Pittsburgh was actually the first team in the NFL to have cheerleaders: http://www.nflteamhistory.com/nfl_teams/pittsburgh_steelers/cheerleaders.html

    1. You hit the nail on the head: “Sex sells.” I’d imagine Meg would agree with you. But the question is whether or not we should be selling sex at football games. Should the NFL be PG-13 rated? Personally, I think it should be about the football.

      I knew a Redskins cheerleader once. Sweet girl, and smart. Easy on the eyes too. I’m just not sure what that has to do with the questions Meg is raising.

      FYI, I think the Ravens have a band too.

      1. Thanks Brian for articulating exactly what I thought in response to Judgemental’s comment. I said in my post, I have no problem with the dancing, I just don’t think it belongs on the sidelines of a football game. I’m happy they’re able to use what their mamas gave ’em in a way that they find personally satisfying. I do the same here on my blog. That’s what’s so great about America!

      2. They wouldn’t need sex to sell the Redskins if they had a product on the field worth watching. Maybe the “cheerleaders” are there to distract fans not only from the mediocre football but also the $8 beers?

        The ‘Skins band was rockin’ the house on Saturday night – I especially enjoyed the drum line’s go-go set during a timeout. And yes, the Ravens have a good band.

      3. The NFL is a business. It is profit driven. Their target demographic enjoys seeing women who are easy on the eye. Just like the NFL makes money off of players who are popular by selling jerseys, memorabilia, advertisements, etc. they make money off of selling cheerleader calendars, appearances, etc.

        The general demo of the football fan prefers to see a more mature woman than the stereotypical classic “cheerleader” you see in High School and College. They entertain fans in between plays.

        And although the game is and should be “family friendly” you have to be honest as a parent when you bring your children to almost any professional game; there is going to be foul language, drunk fans, and perhaps even some fights. If you are ok exposing your children to those aspects than seeing cheerleaders dance similar to what your children would see at a Miley Cyrus concert shouldn’t be so difficult.

      4. Again, I think you all are missing the point. Yes, football is an American past time. But in this case it is a business.

        And I would reconsider your statement that if the Redskins had a product worth watching they wouldn’t need “sex” to sell. Almost every team in the NFL has cheerleaders- including some of the most successful (in terms of numbers of wins) teams in the league.

        The Redskins (or any team for that matter) function to make money. And apparently they are pretty good at it: http://www.forbes.com/lists/2006/30/06nfl_Washington-Redskins_300925.html

      5. Judgmental:

        I think you’ve perfectly articulated the calculation behind the decision to have such supplemental entertainment. If it keeps the fans in the seats, Dan Snyder is going to do it.

        I think there are a lot of possibilities for supplemental entertainment. Certainly, a platoon of hot women is certainly a tempting selection (so to speak). I guess it would be nice to see the organization be a little more creative, though.

        Am I personally offended by hot women shaking it? No, not terribly. But I understand the “family friendly” concern. And if someone asked me to explain exactly what function NFL cheerleaders have, I’d be hard pressed.

      6. Oh, and Meg? Quit ripping on the Redskins! You too, Curt. They’re going to be good this year, I swear! :)

  13. If you actually got to know these cheerleaders you will notice that several of them have full time careers that include: lawyers, doctors, consultants, business owners, etc. What they are doing as cheerleaders is a fun part time activity that allows them to travel across the world, meet new and interesting people, and most of all, get to dance in front of 95,000 people at Fed Ex field and millions more on TV.

    Meg, you part time activity is writing this “interesting” blog which has received more hits today as a result of you referencing the redskins cheerleaders. Congratulations.

    1. And your part-time activity is peppering “interesting” blogs with unprovoked sarcasm and rude comments. (And my part-time activity is mocking d-bags who pepper “interesting” blogs with unprovoked sarcasm and rude comments.)

  14. No problem with cheerleaders, though I am not interested in what they do.

    No problem with dancers, though I will say that if I knew people were saying about me things such as “. . . but she’s REALLY intelligent” or “. . . she’s not just a dancer,” I would take a long look at my career/hobby choice. Why would I want an asterisk or qualifier after my name, following me like an apology?

    I do have a problem with children dancing like the grown-ups do. I have little daughters who want to be cheerleaders. It WILL NOT HAPPEN if the cheerleading team they want to join dances like some of the pro team dance squads I have seen.

    Good topic, Meg — and congratulations for being picked up for the Blog Log!

  15. Until these women (who are all consenting adults) are forced to wear those outfits and parade around at games, with no free will of their own, I can’t see what the problem is. Clearly they choose to do so, good for them.

    Also, they do serve some function beyond entertaining fans between plays–they serve as community liasions, attend benefits, promote their teams and certain charities–and for the most part are college students, businesswomen, skilled professionals–I fail to see anything exploitative about it. Let them do their thing.

    1. I don’t see it as a problem of consenting adults, either — that’s an unrelated issue. There are PLENTY of consenting adults who would perform naked, for free, in front of a packed stadium. The issue is APPROPRIATENESS — to the game and to what has always been a family-friendly leisure pastime. A line must be drawn, and the NFL has drawn it. Some of us here just think the line was drawn farther back than we (as parents, perhaps?) would like. That’s the nature of debate.

    2. That’s true – they’re not being exploited (in my opinion) – but is it wrong to compromise the otherwise “family-friendly” atmosphere of the game? Is there a market anywhere else (outside of the obvious) for scantily-clad semi-athletes?

      (I say semi-athletes not to disparage their athletic ability, but to point out that they don’t have to do anything as physically challenging as do high-school or college cheerleaders. They’re really just a dance team.)

      1. There are a lot of aspects of professional football games that are not “family-friendly.” Attend a rivalry game and those aspects will be exaggerated.

        And although cheerleading and dancing are not the same they BOTH require tremendous amount of physical ability and strength. Many dancers train their entire lives. Just because they aren’t doing back flips or stunting doesn’t mean that they aren’t athletic. It is a different type of strength (core control and stability vs. explosive strength)

      2. You’re right! There are definitely instances of non-family-friendly behavior at NFL games, and not all of it can be complained out of existence. Parents do have to use judgment in such decisions, no question.

        But that’s different from the TEAM making a calculated decision to sell sex.

        I specifically qualified my remarks in order to make clear that I wasn’t commenting on the athletic ability of the dancers. You reiterate my point for me when you say that they don’t engage in stunting. There is exactly zero athletic justification for NFL cheerleaders. (“Wow, she really looks athletic!” doesn’t count.)

      3. I understand what you are saying- I just think you have a somewhat tunnel vision of what is athletic and psychically challenging.

        And the market for “scantily-clad semi-athletes?” Broadway, backup dancing for major recording artists on tour, dancing in shows in Las Vegas (not show girls- I’m talking Cirque de Solei, Celine Dion, etc), professional dance companies, dancing in music videos. All of which require dance ability and the ability to wear very small costumes.

      4. Oh, I’m sure I’d pull a muscle if I tried to kick one of my clodhoppers that high in the air, no doubt. I’d put myself right on the DL. But let’s not kid ourselves about why those girls are out there; it’s not to entertain us with their athleticism.

        When I asked where the market was for these types of dancers, the examples you offered would fall under my concept of “the obvious.” I think the question is whether or not this sort of thing should be leaking into the NFL. Obviously, reasonable people can disagree. Personally, I wouldn’t miss them if they were gone, I think! :)

  16. My problem with the cheerleaders is NOT that they dance or cheer and I realize they do charity work and get to travel. The problem is that they perpetuate the objectification of women by wearing those ridiculous outfits. What would be wrong with wearing more athletic type outfits? It is the same as if the football players would only wear jock straps, shoulder pads and helmets to play…just isn’t right.

    1. Agreed. If they want to do all of that and wear those costumes, let ’em, but they have to assume and understand the baggage that goes along with putting it all out there. Still, it doesn’t belong on the sidelines of an NFL game.

  17. Did I miss something? Weren’t you just expressing YOUR opinion? Is that now illegal in the United States of the Offended?? Looks like the official punishment is a good tongue lashing;)

  18. In my opinion, i think the ladies who post negatively toward his subject would wear such outfits including bikini’s and NOT those one piece bathing suits with a t-shirt on top IF they worked hard for the body those cheerleaders have. DON HATE, APPRECIATE the beauty. And Meg…seriously, fans pay $$$ to get into the stadiums to be entertained..the football game is primary, but there are several other elements that contribute to the experience..including the cheerleaders.

    1. Oh Tom, I appreciate the beauty, but I personally wouldn’t be a “cheerleader.” I’m nowhere near coordinated enough. I know they work hard for their hard bodies. But that’s still not germane to my original point, which was, do they belong on the sidelines of an NFL game?

      And I get that it’s entertainment. All pro sports remind me, to a certain extent, of what it must’ve been like in the days of the Roman Gladiators. It’s a Product, a Package Deal.

      But they’re still not Leading Cheers.

  19. I followed four women through Wizard dancer tryouts for a story in the Washington Post magazine, many many Missy Elliott hits ago. I watched as kindergarten teachers, lobbyists and the assorted personal trainer became completely obsessed with finding the right nude pantyhose, perfecting some of the hardest dance routines I’ve ever seen (but never see at the games) and nailing the art of sitting on a stool without showing belly roll. I wanted to not like them, but I could not once I knew them individually. As a jelly-boob buying, low-fat animal cracker-eating, Wet-Sealing wearing pack, they were hard to stand for more than five minutes. But one on one, I liked each one,pitied their schedules, money and need for attention and at times envied how much fun they were having and how damn good their abs looked. But I miss cheerleaders who lead cheers at games. Now we just stare at a screen (like we do all day) and wait for it to tell us “Make Some Noise.”

    1. I hear you Long Story, and thanks for chiming in. I have nothing against the girls. I know they are asked to give plenty for the privilege of their sideline vantage point. More power to those who have the bods, skills and time to do so.

      The fans in the seats give the lemming response to the clapping played over the PA system, or to the players on the field who do that “raise the roof” thing with their arms, or, as you point out, to the sign on the JumboTron. NOT to the “cheerleaders.”

  20. For the record, my husband was at the game. He’s a die-hard Steeler fan who was invited to the game by a life-long Redskins fans who, after 17 year on the waiting list, finally got season tickets for seats right behind the bench.

    Needless to say, they were there to watch football, not cheerleaders/dancers. My husband showed me some of the pictures he took, and they all had a cheerleader or more in the shot! I told him that it looked like he was taking pictures of cheerleaders, not football players. He informed me that the cheerleaders were blocking his view of the game most of the time. He took a photo of Troy Palomalu (sp?) for me, and I couldn’t even tell it was him because of a cheerleader in the way. The man has hair past his shoulder blades, for goodness sake!

    So, my dh (who is a fan of busty gals) and his friend who spent a small fortune on Redskins season tickets had to look PAST the cheerleaders to watch the game. If it isn’t pouring down rain next time he’s invited, he’s taking a zoom lens.

    1. See comments above from Curt, Karl, and others, whose preference it is at an NFL game to be able to watch said game, not be distracted by what’s happening on the sidelines. I hope your husband can get to Heinz Field in the ‘burgh if he hasn’t been already. NO distractions there.

  21. Meg:

    You obviously missed the cheerleaders dance in unison on nearly every Redskins first down…lead the crowd on the “DE-FENSE” cheering…perform to the “Fight” song, join in on the “wave”, etc.

    The cheerleaders may have some provocative movements but that is the least of what they do on the field.
    No one ever mentions thier high kicks, excellent choreography, or drop split!! It’s always their small oufits and sexy moves…NO WONDER they keep doing it!!!!!! Any publicity is GOOD publicity!!! It’s people like you that make the Redskins Cheerleaders SO POPULAR!

    1. I did see them waving their poms all in unison in response to first downs. I did not see the crowd doing the wave (we left at the end of the 3rd), nor did I hear them yelling De-FENSE in repsonse to the cheerleaders.

      Not trying to take away from the choreography or the splits or the high kicks at all – it’s fun to watch. But I wonder if they would feel that the sexy moves and scanty costumes take away from the more athletic ones you cited. Couldn’t they stun us all with their amazing dancing without booty-grinding and throwing their hair all around?

  22. I see the arguments from both sides, and can agree with both to some degree. However, I will have to side with those who realize that pro cheerleaders are there for the entertainment aspect. The band, the rally towels, the cheerleaders, and the $8 beers are all unnecessary components of a football game. But those that attend the games are there to be entertained, to watch the game, and usually a combination of both. One can happily cut out all those extraneous “distractions” by watching the game on tv, or ignoring what they don’t want to watch at the stadium. Backup dancers at concerts are unnecessary, but they’re there to add to the entertainment, much like these girls.

    NFL, NBA, and other pro cheerleaders provide entertainment value to a pro sport. While these girls carry on traditions from decades ago, they also incorporate more modern aspects too. The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders have the same uniform, and the Redskins Cheerleaders still perform the same victory dance. They all dance to old classic songs and new hits alike. Cheerleading has evolved over the years. If you haven’t seen what college cheerleaders wear these days, you may be surprised to see they’re not too different from pro cheerleader uniforms. Those athletes actually do wear minimal outfits as well. Hemlines raise, pants get tighter and skinnier – such is the way of fashion in general.

    As for the athleticism argument, many girls came from a traditional cheerleading or studio dance background. They actually incorporate kick lines, tumbling, pirouettes, leaps, and jumps into routines. Some of it may not look “athletic” because they make it look easy! It takes practice – these are things that an average person can’t do. So yes, they do have athleticism even though they don’t build pyramids. These girls may be mis-titled as cheerleaders because they don’t lead cheers and chants, but they are involved with sideline entertainment (and they certainly yell and cheer when a first down or touchdown occurs – I’ve heard it!).

    These dancers have careers, or children, or are obtaining higher education. They get paid pennies for performing, which you may find out if you research on their team pages. I can assure you a vast majority of these cheerleaders/dancers join the teams because they love to entertain crowds, love the great view of the game they get from the sidelines, and enjoy the charity work they’re able to involve themselves in. There is more to being on the team than the 10 games they get to perform at.

    It’d be interesting to find out if we’d have this argument if they weren’t beautiful. I’m pretty sure they know that all eyes aren’t on them, but it’s a fun gig that I’m sure many would love to do if given the opportunity. I realize you’re not attacking each girl personally, but I can see how some would take your entry as offensive. These girls know what they’re getting into. Thanks for providing a great debate, but don’t knock the cheerleaders completely.

    1. Cheerleader – thank you for articulating the other side of the issue – this was a well-put (and well-written) counter to my assertion. You raise a good question about whether we’d be discussing this if they weren’t beautiful. Probably not. But beauty aside, I still go back to whether the suggestive parts of their routines are appropriate or necessary. That’s one of the components of the whole NFL entertainment package that makes me hesitate as a parent to bring my sons to the game. (That and the ridiculous cost of tickets!) So then, are we talking about a FOOTBALL game, or a SHOW that includes an athletic competition at its core? A three-ring circus, perhaps? A spectacle extravaganza?? Maybe that’s the real question here.

  23. Personally, I’d still have the same opinion whether they were ogres or beauty queens.

    And my final thought, how many times this season will the cameraperson zoom in on the “pom-pom’s” while fading to commercial?

  24. Wow, I got here so late I think I missed the debate or at least not too much more to add, except support for expressing one’s opinion, especially as gracefully as soupy meg always do.

    I guess I’m just way too cynical – journalist in me? I’m honestly waaaaaaayyy less offended or surprised by the football striptease then the “prostitot” culture that had a mom next to me at the hair salon doling out money for her daughter’s jr. high dance “after party lingerie” with a shrug , the lingerie shops for little girls, the fact that sex is considered worse than violence/disrespect/mistreatment when it comes to morality police/ratings etc. I barely even notice the cheerleaders anymore.

    true confessions: I’ve been known to at a boring part in the game, turn to the dance team number, or heck even flip to espn’s dance off. my high school’s cheerleading routine was done to “push it” heh. I’m not proud, but I also don’t think it corrupted me…. or did it.

    Side note that’s neither here nor there…. don’t most schools now have dance teams AND cheerleaders. Two DIFFERENT things? SU does.

    Anyway, interesting debate… I told you you’d get hits from the Express thing. Just remember “any publicity” ;) xoxo washwords (who promises to be back on quieter days)

    1. There are lingerie shops for little girls? Are they in malls? Because I don’t really “do” malls. Thank GAH I have boys.

      Penn State has a separate dance squad at the football games. But they wear long pants, even in warm weather. Just sayin’.

  25. Honestly, the die hard redskins fans primarily watch the game and at the same time will watch the cheerleaders perform. You being a lady are obviously more focused on the latter which is fine. No one is forcing you to watch either, but, honestly you have written a great article that has sparked serious debate and has drawn visitors to your website that would have not known you even existed.

    So you think about it for a minute, the cheerleaders have actually promoted you! So give them props where it is due. I for one will probably check in from time to time to see what you write next because I love these type of debates.

  26. I guess the cheerleaders are doing things right because you all have noticed them!! GO REDSKINS!!! CHEERLEADERS AND PLAYERS AND BAND AND FANS……….. FIGHT FOR OLD D.C.!!!!

  27. Y’all: Very little commenting on the Little First Ladies of Football. Have you seen ’em? They’re not doing high school cheerleading, they’re doing the suggestive dancing. Reactions? Thoughts?

  28. Get a life people, everything in this world had gotten sexier, why wouldnt cheerleaders, and cheerleaders dont cheer much anymore they dance. I think there are more important issues out there!

    1. Hey there, new Tom, why – you are absolutely right. There is really no reason for us to be discussing sexism here, or the real definition of a “cheerleader.” Let’s find something more noble, more important… how about Darfour? That’s a good one. You start. Ready…? – GO!

      **slapping forehead**

  29. still thinking about this and ha, yes “no publicity is bad publicity” is what i was meaning to say. lately mind in a billion diff. places so thanks for knowing what i meant and deleting that second repeated comment by me.

    I also meant to say… I think i AM that casual fan you’re talking about. unless it’s SU basketball or fantasy football.

    but yes, suggestive dancing little girls… gets a big fat ugh and falls in the toddlers and tiaras sadness.

    Interesting debate… keep up the good dialoguing miss meg!

  30. I agree with whoever said the $8 beers were really offensive. We power-loaded at the tailgate. Danny Boy didn’t get a nickel off us in the stadium! I’ll bet anyone that Jason Campbell won’t be the starter by the end of the season. They’re about done with him. Very good defense, pretty bad offense, tough division. Smells like 8-8 to me.

    Oh, and the First Little Ladies? Way too far down the JonBennet Ramsey continuum for my taste. Trust me, they weren’t wearing what that harmless poster suggests. And they…um…”cheered” to the inspiring sounds of “Push It.” Nice.

  31. Public debate really is dead in this country. Apparently, if you question the appropriateness at a football game of scantily-clad suggestive dancers, you are ugly, jealous, and hate the actual women who do the dancing, and think they are stupid. Sigh.

    P.S. Tom, you’re a dick.

  32. Woooowwww! As a cheer mom for 9 years I have seen the hard work and dedication it takes to put together a performance of just about any kind. But, if your routine is provocative and inappropriate, then those watching are not impressed by the hard work only offended by the shock factor. Granted, these cheerleaders are there to provide entertainment, however, if the entertainment you are looking for, is borderline striptease, the sidelines of any sporting event is not where it should be found. This is not a judgement of the character or personality of any of these beautiful women, but a comment on the type of entertainment they are providing. The question becomes is the entertainment appropriate?
    Good post Meg!

  33. Sounds like Meg might havebeen on of the 1000 girls from all over the world that got cut from the tryout, and for the Mom that thinks its inappropriate for her child, I guess its ok for the guy that is sitting next to your son spilling beer on him and having inappropriate language is ok. I think these girls are great, you can tell they put alot of time into there performance. These girl are the best in the NFL and are in high demand all over the world, I know they get my section fired up and are great entertainment when nothing is happening on the playing field. Keep up the great tradition. Meg I guess it does suck that your boyfriend can’t even tell you what the score was after the game, but I bet he knows all of the dance numbers.

    1. Welcome to the party, John. You’re late – the bean dip is gone and we floated the keg a while ago. Sorry ’bout that! Have you read any of the comments above? Because if you had, you would see that you completely missed the point of my post. But thanks for chiming in with your new and interesting perspective!

  34. I’m really late to the party, but better late than never.

    I don’t have a problem with them either way. Yes, their dancing is distracting (to me, at least) and a bit much but they work hard and are good at what they do.

    I have a problem with children imitating them. There’s so many better role models in the world.

  35. To answer the persisting question of whether the cheerleaders (nfl definition- not hs/college athletes) belong at an nfl game, of course they do!

    I can go to a beach to relax and all I NEED is the sun, sand and water, BUT it is much more enjoyable when I have the background noise of laughing children or scolding parents, a hot lifeguard, young people playing volleyball, or the inappropriate teens making out in the corner of my eye. All of these are “distractions”- some more hindering to my ability to “relax” than others, BUT I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wouldn’t go to a deserted beach- maybe those “extras” are what makes me even go?! I could relax at home. The same is true of going to the movies, going out to eat or attending any other event that promotes social interaction, but could be done at home.

    As adults, we should expect certain things at certain places, as Americans we have the privilege of making a conscious decision to be a part of it or not. When I go to a professional sporting event, I expect foul language, beer, junk food (which I would beg to argue is a much worse problem for the kids than merely suggestive moves by women who LOVE their bodies (when most women and young girls don’t)) and occasional fighting (even by the players!).

    If I chose to bring my children to a game I would spend less time teaching my girls that they should ashamed of their bodies and sexuality, and spend more time showing them the teamwork on the field and pointing out that the beautiful women they see on the sidelines all look different- besides being physically fit, they exemplify BEAUTY in different races, heights, sizes, and indeed breast sizes! FYI, the First Ladies have the most racially diverse team in all of the NFL. I would then, show them the jobs these girls hold and that they too could be engineers, lawyers, business execs, teachers or even DANCERS and CHEERLEADERS if they work hard and study!

    Not to point fingers, but this is another example of people blaming others for their inability to communicate and teach their kids. There seems to be a lot of “McDonalds should offer salads or should pay me for getting fat!” or “rap music corrupts my kids” type of people contributing to this blog.

    Regarding the Little Ladies: all of the little girls participating in the Little Ladies program have parents that were there with cameras and families that had gatherings to celebrate their performance- this kind of loving support is far more important than your minor comfort about the 3 min. routine they did. You might have missed that all of the stunts by the Little Ladies were hit (not dropped). That’s what these girls will remember about their performance; that the friends they made at practice were so cool and taught them about themselves socially. As a former cheerleader, I don’t remember any routine that I did, I only remember the friends I made and how it felt to be a cheerleader. Thank God that those memories and skills have helped me to be the CONFIDENT professional that I am.

    As women, we should be less interested in pointing out how other women “are setting us back,” or making us feel uncomfortable about ourselves, and instead realizing that femininity and our sexual bodies are BEAUTIFUL, EXACTLY as women were created (w/ hips, butts, breasts, longer hair and vaginas) and should be the ONLY thing differentiating us from men!! THESE BEAUTIES SHOULD BE CELEBRATED, NOT RIDICULED OR SHAMED! We are awesome beings- we give birth- we should really love ourselves much more!

    1. Regarding the “Little Ladies” – I’m all for stunts and for children having goals and achieving them while their loving parents snap photographs. What I’m not for is teaching young children how to dance like the adults dance, because it’s suggestive. I think it cheapens the goal of any such program for children to have them out there bumping and grinding to “Push It”.

      Confidential to Cathy – thanks for all three of your comments, but mean name calling is not allowed in this space. I moderate comments because of trolls like you. Get a life, girl. You totally missed my point.

  36. I think Phoenix has one good point, and that is that this is just kind of the way it is now with a lot of professional sports. Nothing’s going to change that now. So if it seems like not a good environment for kids, then maybe bring them to a baseball game instead, or a Penn State game, or drive up to the ‘Burgh to enjoy a Steelers game with fans who really are there for one reason and one reason only: to watch football.

    Still, it wouldn’t be a post in support of NFL cheerleaders if it didn’t suggest that we have “ridiculed and shamed” them personally, which no one has done, or that the only reason to point out this example of blatant oversexification of our culture and objectification of women is if you feel “uncomfortable about yourself.” Nothing could be further from the truth, and to make that point (again) does really nothing to further the conversation.

    Finally, “Yo, yo, yo, yo, baby-pop
    Yeah, you come here, gimme a kiss
    Better make it fast or else I’m gonna get pissed
    Can’t you hear the music’s pumpin’ hard like I wish you would?”‘ NOT something I’d want MY little girl shaking her hips to!!!!!!! How is that not WILDLY INAPPROPRIATE?

  37. If times are changing and cheerleading routines are evolving, what the hell are they going to be wearing in about 5 years?

  38. OH DEAR, my friend. You certainly opened up a big old can of very opinionated worms (or Whup-Ass, as Dr. Phil might say)!
    And you stated your stance again and again very articulately and logically. Bravo, Meg!

  39. To summarize the entire discussion:

    Do NFL Cheerleaders belong on the sidelines of an NFL game? YES, as does, beer, the band, fireworks, junk food, body painted fans, and signs.

    Do they serve an actual purpose AT THE GAME? YES, as described by not only myself, they get the crowd on their feet and loud during pivotal points in the game, they entertain between plays, they open the entire event with a performance that “hypes” the crowd in anticipation for the starting lineup and overall event, they provide that up-close interaction with dream seat ticket holders, heck they even throw free t-shirts, lol!

    Is their dancing suggestive? Duh! We all know that “cheerleading” has always dealt with the stigmas of how women “should act.” The cheerleading skirt has been one of the most controversial issues in high school sports since its inception- when it was first shortened to reveal, uh oh, the knees!

    I was quite reserved in deciding to continue to respond to this. As I reread other responses, I have found that these questions posed have all been answered multiple times. I’m finding that I don’t think the purpose of this blog was to really get an answer, but it was more to persuade, almost ironically, a belief that women should hide what makes them women and not be seen sexually, so that they instead might cover themselves, dance with no feminine appeal, so they might look more like…men? Hmm, I would hope that at some point you will see that REAL feminists would love to look like a woman, move like a woman, sway our hips like women, flirt like women and STILL be respected for having a brain that more than competes with that of a man’s. I know that this goes beyond your original questions, but this is that bigger issue beyond “cheerleaders” that everyone’s looking for. This is how and when you bring up women’s rights globally; that there are still young girls being “circumcised” and others killed/assaulted for trying to be educated, and adult women forced to live in poverty and covered from head to toe. In our country, we are still not equal to men in pay for the same amount of work. Why? Not because there are girls dancing suggestively on the sidelines of a solely male league, but maybe because we (both parents) aren’t teaching our children (both male and female) that sporting events are games-mere productions and that real arguments about equality should be about our roles in the home, classroom, on tests, in the workplace and in world affairs.

    Bets- I don’t believe I said anyone was attacking the cheerleaders personally. However, I do believe that of all the things that make an NFL sporting event not family friendly, the fact that a woman would focus on the cheerleaders reeks of self reflection. Why would one care only about the cheerleaders and not fight as passionately about other non-family friendly things that are arguably just as detrimental to a mentally healthy child? Further, I may not have been clear about what I thought was “ridiculed and shamed”- I was not referring to cheerleaders, I was referring to the physical features (“beauties”) of women and their need to be hidden; and “loving ourselves more” was meant to point out that trying to hide or shame the female body is a form of self hatred- not a reference to any particular person.

    Secondly, it has been posted multiple times that the Little Ladies danced to “Push It.” That is indeed FALSE. The girls danced to a medley of three songs: one was a “Top 20s” dance mix that could be found at any cheerleading competition (the real sport: hs/college) this season, the second was a MJ song “Black or White” and the third was another “Top 20’s” song about a girl demanding respect from a man that lies to her. I understand that Push It would have, and has made a great talking point, but it’s simply not true that they danced to that. It’s actually quite funny that the music that they in fact danced to was quite the opposite!

    Okay, Meg, this should be my last LOOOONG post, lol! Thanks for reading and congrats to you!

    1. Phoenix, thanks for visiting again – I’ll reply tonight when I have time.

      You are right, my mistake – the Skins Cheerleaders did Push It – not the Li’l Ladies…

    2. The day they have an all-male dance squad on the field dressed about like Chippendale dancers is the day women have achieved true equality in the world of sport.

      I’m only half-joking. And I’d still not be thrilled to have my little daughters watch it, for all the same reasons.

      Sexuality on display in an arena (including TV coverage!) not delineated by age, is not, for me, an issue of liberation, but an issue of bad taste. From either sex.

  40. Modern professional sports is not family friendly. Period. Would you let gyrating, scantily glittered ladies do a routine for your kids in your living room? Or let a few guys get drunk and yell obscenities at the TV while your family is trying to watch the show? Of course not. Well, I hope not. It’s a collision of business interests and cultural decay. While I don’t advocate we all start wearing suits to the games like people used to, I do wish more people would reconsider the idea that public fun is different than private.

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