Cheerleading for ‘Motor City’ Pride

by omni

Since their first appearance on football field sidelines some 40 years ago, cheerleaders have become as irreplaceable as foam fingers and the fans that fill the stands. So why are so many National Football Teams (NFL) teams without cheerleaders? Additionally, why do the majority of NFL teams have no interest whatsoever in putting cheerleaders back on the sidelines? In a conversation with The New York Times, John Mara, part-owner of the New York Giants, shared, “Philosophically, we have always had issues with sending scantily clad women out on the field to entertain our fans.” The Giants, however, are not the only NFL squad that feels like their organization is better off without cheerleaders. Since the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears cleared their sidelines of cheerleaders during the 1980s several other teams have followed suit, in exchange for a less ‘racy’ environment fans and owners affectionately refer to as ‘family-friendly entertainment’. Even though 26 of 32 teams in the NFL teams have opted to keep their cheerleading squads for the moment, there’s no telling how the terms may change for cheerleaders in the future. What’s more, fans share the sentiment. According to the same article, research indicates football fans’ to have a negative pre-disposition towards ‘cheerleading’ and ‘cheerleaders’. Currently, there exists a rapidly-growing movement of do-it-yourself cheerleaders who are campaigning to show the world there is more to cheering than what they see on Sunday football games. Perhaps the most notable of these cheerleading revivalists are the Detroit Pride Cheerleaders. Nevertheless, the cheerleading squad –whose name is both a reference to lions’ social structure and a summary of their organizations’ goal- has been met with heavy opposition by not only fans, but the Lions’ organization. Apparently, the Lions’ owner, William Clay Ford, had adamantly opposed the idea of placing cheerleaders back on the sidelines. When cheerleaders were a part of Lions’ football, they supposedly created distractions for players and fueled fan fights throughout the grandstands. Like it or not, cheerleading has become an integral element of football at all levels. So much so, that even Pop Warner organizations have started offering cheerleading programs. Why is it, then, that society and parents push girls into cheerleading and then resent them for it when they develop skill in the sport? Do you think every NFL teams should have a cheerleading squad? Why do you think football fans, and people in general, attach a negative connotation to the word, ‘cheerleading’?

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