Friday, August 19, 2005

The Danger of Cheerleaders

[with thanks to amateur for finding this article for me]
While this particular event/incident is a little outdated, having occurred at the summer games in Athens last year, I think the issue is still relevant. And since I am still on my bring-softball-back soapbox, I will relate the issue of cheerleaders to softball. You just wait and see...
So last year at the Olypics the FIVB, the international governing body of volleyball, hired a team of cheerleaders (actually they were referred to as a dance team) to perform at the men's and women's beach volleyball matches. And of course this caused controversy--and rightly so I may add.
I am not going to enter into a debate on whether cheerleading is a sport or not--not yet anyway. But I am going to argue some of the points presented in the article which claims that the women were there to keep the crowd entertained between points. Umm...I am not an avid volleyball watcher but I think the time between points is pretty short. And they game itself is very exciting. It's not golf or baseball with lots of down time. (Please don't take this to mean I think cheerleaders should show up doing high kicks on the Green Monster or pyramids on the 8th fairway--they should not.)
The argument also goes that the cheerleaders--oh I'm sorry--dance team--bring in a crowd. Now, it was a year ago but I don't think beach volleyball had a lot of trouble finding fans. (If cheerleaders are supposed to bring in a crowd why weren't they at women's soccer or the tennis venues which were woefully empty?) One British spectator brought his sons and, upon seeing and videotaping the cheerleaders, said they would definitely be back.
Those are not the type of fans I would want at an event. And here I bring it all back to softball as promised. Softball has no cheerleaders, and hopefully no plans for cheerleaders. The fans are the cheerleaders--in the truest sense of the word. And they are good. They might not be able to do basket tosses or awesome cupies but they make signs, they paints their faces and they yell great cheers. And they fight for their sport. I would bet that at least 75 percent of the audience at the Little League Softball World Series last night wrote or is planning to write letters to the IOC to argue for the reinstatement of softball. If beach volleyball was on the chopping block, do you think the English guy who shows up for the cheerleaders would be leading the campaign to keep it? No, because there are women who look like cheerleaders everywhere. The Brit just has to turn on his computer to see women dancing around nearly nude on a beach. In the end it's not a big enough incentive to keep fans coming back.

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