But seriously, folks…

WOW! I had no idea my post about the NFL cheerleaders would get so much attention and pluck so many nerves! I’ve never had a “real” debate like that in my comments, and it was fascinating to watch it unfold. Except for a few comments that got a little too personal, that is.  But those folks can’t help it if they’re not nearly as enlightened as my loyal readers! Most commenters understood my point and appreciated the debate, and I’d like to thank you all for weighing in.

Yes, even you.

And thanks, Washington Express, for quoting me! Come back again and visit soon!

Listen. We’re all mature adults here, right? And really, with the state of the world these days, and in the larger scheme of things, does any of this really, really matter? Aren’t we all just dust in the wind?

One commenter who came late to yesterday’s dance thought our discussion was all a bunch of fluff:

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!

WOW! Great point! There are more important issues out there! Lots of ’em! And we should be discussing them right here in this space.

It’s time to get serious!

Taking my commenter’s lead, I propose we dispense with all humor and instead debate some weightier topics. Matters of import. Take poverty, for instance. I learned here that:

According to UNICEF, 25,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”

And then there’s the crisis in Darfur, summarized here by Amnesty International:

The conflict in Darfur, Sudan, has led to some of the worst human rights abuses imaginable, including systematic and widespread murder, rape, abduction and displacement. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed by both deliberate and indiscriminate attacks, and over 2.5 million civilians have been displaced. Though violence persists, the UN Security Council has mandated what may be an effective peacekeeping operation to guarantee security for the people of Darfur.

Oh, and how about healthcare reform? And the whole thing about the so-called “death panels” (thanks, Sarah Palin!)?

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

Now there is some heavy stuff! Some meaty issues! I mean, who are we to be debating the merits of whether the “cheerleaders” are really leading cheers and whether their provocative dancing belongs on the sidelines of an NFL game, and whether the NFL game is really just about the GAME, or part of a larger spectacle that includes a variety of entertainment items, much like a three-ring circus?

WHAT WAS I THINKING?

**slaps forehead**

So, if anyone cares to debate a more serious topic, choose from one of the above, or pick your own and let’s get started!  You over there, lurking behind your monitor? You go first.

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.

Shifting Gears

stick shift

Our vacationing neighbors asked us to take their car for a spin from time to time during their three-week absence. They’ve kept our pets alive more times than I can count, and, despite the fact that our cat continues to live, it seemed an easy way to repay their kind, if misguided, efforts.

Now, they don’t drive some flashy sports car or pimped-out SUV. It’s a basic Japanese sedan that has more miles on it than our 10-year-old Jeep. But what it does have that our vehicles don’t is a manual transmission.

 After doing them the “favor” of driving their car to the Metro parking lot and back, I can say with assurance that if I have a choice, the next car we own is going to have a stick shift. Five on the floor. Because driving a manual transmission is FUN!

I haven’t driven a stick since we “sold” my old, ailing Honda Civic CX to a friend about 6 years ago. He needed a car; we needed a case of beer, so we traded.  Despite my hiatus, the art of shifting gears came right back to me. I glided through each one as smoothly as if I’d been driving this car forever. I deftly downshifted. Nary a lurch nor jolt. No grinding gears. No stalling out. I was perfection.

As I drove, a handful of related thoughts began to congeal in a way that only a writer would understand. In no particular order:

  • My first car was a 1980 Buick Skylark with 4 on the floor, and the stick shift bent back at a strange angle because of the front bench seat. My parents had ordered this car special and had to wait for it to be built and shipped.  A couple of former sports car drivers (think Jaguar, MG, ’57 Chevy), I’m sure they were craving the control a manual transmission offers after all those years of driving station wagons and huge family sedans.
  • I knew I had mastered the art of driving a stick shift when I had to stop on an incline, facing up, at a two-way stop sign. I looked both ways, then proceeded across the road with the efficiency required of that limited visibility intersection, without kicking up so much as a single pebble.
  • In high school, I dated a guy whose dad had given him a brand-new Camaro Z-28 for his 16th birthday. With T-tops. I was the only girl he ever let drive it. Or at least that’s what he told me.
  • I was always fascinated by my dad’s 10-wheeler farm truck. It had 15 gears! So, every five gears, he had to shift twice (one stick from low to medium, the other from 5th to first to start all over).  
  • My sons still pretend to drive fast sports cars even as we lumber along in our giant Suburban. In their minds, they hear the whine of high RPMs as they race through the gears.
  • Do kids nowadays even know how to drive a stick? Meaning in real life, not in a video game? How many people do you know today who drive a manual transmission? I think more people should, because if they did, we would all be forced to engage in – to concentrate on – the act of driving, thereby precluding cell phone conversations and texting behind the wheel. 

Just sayin’.