Saturday, January 06, 2007

But What About the Cheerleaders????

Alright, it was a cheesy lead in, but once again our glorious state has been subjected to some unflattering shades of limelight due to yet another in a series of Bad Afternoon Drama Cheerleading Incidents. I am frankly, as a Texan, a mother, a teacher and a person sick and tired of hearing about aimless cheerleaders getting themselves into trouble due to the misconception that they are infallible and immune to rules and /or laws. Yes, I know this may come as a shock, but cheerleaders, just like football players are HUMAN. And that means they have to honor every single law on the books including gravity. Let's review some of the more stellar moments in Texas Cheerleading History, some of which were publicized and others which I observed as a parent.
1. The Mom who tried to Kill a girl that beat her daughter out for a spot on the squad. (I think this may be a reality series of some sort now...)
2. The two PREGNANT cheerleaders that sued an East Texas school to be allowed on the team. (What were their parents thinking, I mean, REALLY THINKING? That around the third trimester their little darlings were going to defy gravity by doing aerial stunts while sporting a belly out to there???)
3. The Cheerleaders Who Drank While Performing at the Game. (This became a national story at the time. I was actually AT the game-it was my own kids' school. A JV cheerleader was selling programs in the stands and staggering up and down. A security guard saw her nearly fall and stopped her. When he stated "You're drunk." She replied "well the Varisty squad has vodka in their waterbottles." I want you to imagine and soak up the scene-full stadium, close game, the superintendent on the field watching since it was a district rivalry and cheerleaders being hauled off by police from the sidelines. Ah yes, memories......)
4. The McKinney "Fab Five" (Could anything be more pathetic. They run off five sponsors in three years and NOBODY THINKS THERE IS A PROBLEM??? The sponsor tries to get action and is stonewalled. She goes to the media. The girls post suggestive photos in uniform on MySpace site. And the parents STILL want them to be on the squad. I am sure there is more to the story, but I don't like soap operas.)
5. This is one I knew about-my daughter's junior year two cheerleaders, girls who had been catty and nasty and horrible to most of their peers, but managed through fear and loathing to remain at the top of the Food Chain, ambushed a girl who was dating one of their former boyfriends. The guy (who incidentally got off scot free) dropped the girl off at a house where they girls beat her with a baseball bat. She got a skull fracture and the girls should have been arrested, but one of them had an attorney for a father. Instead of the alterantive school and jail time punishment they deserved, their punishment was (drumroll......wait for it)to be kicked off the squad. Oh the humanity.....
6. One girl, who was in a class I had, was beautiful talented and had the most abrasive, self-centered attitude of any person I have yet to meet that wasn't in political office. She disrupted every class and due to the favors she blessed upon select elite jocks, was powered into Homecoming Queen in a very disputed race in which several suspicious ballots turned up. She's gone now and I am glad to not have to deal with her anymore. Her parents supported her nasty attitude. She's at OU now. I hope they enjoy her up there....

Finally-a comment
Not all cheerleaders are the sleazy models that the NFL, Maxim and news stories would have you believe. I have known some wonderful kids that were excellent gymnasts who took their position as cheerleader very seriously. The two things that influence a student organization are the parents and the sponsors. If you have parents who condone, support and provide spaces for bad behavior such as drinking and sex, then it is difficult to reel the kids back into normal behavior at school. Also, when you have a sponsor who is out of control or delusional, as we did one year at our school, the squad can get into a bad place very quickly. And finally, I think this generation of parents has been far too overprotective of their children in regard to failure. While I don't necessarily like the competition for such things as athletics, cheerleading or drill team, I also don't like the situations where "everybody wins." In real life, that just doesn't happen. Everybody doesn't win every time. Sometimes you lose. You lose due to lack of preparation, lack of skills, bias or any of a number of causes. This generation's parents want an insured "win" for every situation. So they argue for grades, for placement and for leniency. There comes a point when kids need to learn how to handle defeat gracefully. And when they learn how to do that, they will also be able to more aptly handle the perq's that come with success. Along with this obsessive overprotective attitude, there is also a strangely distant interest in how children are really doing on a daily basis. I have kids that show up in my class just to talk. Some of my children's friends do the same. These kids, these six foot tall children, are desperately lonesome. And without a family that gives a damn, they turn to sex or drugs or alcohol or gangs to fill the void. I don't think it's a far cry from a group of out of control cheerleaders to a gang? The mentality of invincibility and lack of respect is already in place. People always seem so shocked that cheerleaders would do something bad, but I am here to tell you that just because kids appear to be functioning socially and academically doesn't mean that the kids are alright.


Darren said...

The recent cheerleader story is almost beyond belief. Where are the adults? Living vicariously?

Ellen K said...

Most likely. Frankly the whole cheerleader menace has been a pox on the entire state of Texas public school system. I was never one of those girls, but I have seen those girls in action and it's not pretty. The McKinney "Fab Five" is just a symptom of a much MUCH larger problem. And that has a great deal to do with living through your kids.