• 69aggie
    I was somewhat shocked to read the NYT article today that the governing body of the Olympic Games is considering making Cheer Leading an Olympic sport! I am somewhat conservative on this Olympic new sports stuff. I say OK with rugby, softball, baseball, but very iffy on skate boarding, rock climbing, surfing, karate, but OK- my kids did it. But “Cheer Leading?” I don’t think I can go there. It is not n a NCAA recognized sport. Title IX does not list cheer as a sport. I have read that some southern schools do give scholarships for cheer. I have no idea if any BWC or BSC school does that. But leave it to the International Cheer Union and someone out of the University of Alabama to propose this AND THE OLYMPIC GUYS TOOK IT SERIOUSLY! The claim is that it is an “Endurance Sport.”
  • movielover
    Not big on surfing, skate boarding & rock climbing, either.

    A move to bring in younger viewers?
  • DrMike
    I have a hard time making something an Olympic sport when they can’t decide if it’s R-O-W-D-I-E or R-O-W-D-Y.

    My wife was a cheerleader and we often laugh at those two iconic cheers
  • agalum

    And I know which cheer she dislikes, lol.
  • Goags20172
    Sure, why not ? I don't give a good golly gosh darn about the Olympics. For me cheerleading is a less-skilled version of gymnastics with slightly better-fed and better-looking women. :smile:
  • fugawe09
    Interesting facts about this —
    * competitive cheerleading does exist in other countries
    * competitive cheer and competitive dance have grown very similar (main difference is how they point their fingers and toes)
    * there is a branch of competitive cheerleading called “stunt sport” that is under consideration of being an NCAA sport. Poly fields a team.
    * global cheerleading is mostly owned by one billionaire, Jeff Webb. He owns the competitions, the uniform makers, the photo companies, etc. Totally vertically integrated. He has invested significantly in getting the IOC’s ear.

    It’s probably fair to say that modern cheerleaders (who do very little actual cheering) are athletic, I guess the question becomes are all competitive athletic endeavors sports? Lots of politics involved at the Olympic level. I mean ribbon dancing is really only an Olympic sport to boost medal counts for Eastern Europe.
  • 72Aggie
    I prefer sports that are capable of some objective measurement: goals scored, time, tape measure...over those where the winner is determined by human judgment. (And yes, all sports are subject to some human judgment via referees....)

    The Olympic motto is “Faster, Higher, Stronger," not "Most liked by a panel of human judges."

    Not a fan of the picnic sports like badminton and table tennis. How long before we see cornhole? (And am I the only person old enough to remember when "cornhole" had a whole (HAR!) different connotation, perhaps like a certain Band-Uh cheer.)
  • 69aggie
    Just found out my own wife was cheerleader in HS (Burbank Bulldogs LA). Can I delete my former posts? Be careful what you wish for or question- I be paying. “Of course it should be an Olympic sport, you old curmudgeon- go to bed”. I went, thankfully.
  • movielover
    How about beer drinking? Pool? Axe throwing?
  • 72Aggie
    Video gaming? Beer pong?
  • Oldbanduhalum
    Personally, I don't really care if they want to add cheerleading as an Olympic sport. If I don't like it, I won't watch. I haven't seen enough competitive cheerleading (especially international cheerleading) to know if it's a viable sport worldwide, but the Olympics is constantly adding and dropping events. New events are tested to see if there is interest in them, but If people don't embrace it, or in other words, there's not a positive return on the investment, it'll get dropped. By the way, tug-of-war used to be a track and field event in the early 1900's. I'd be in favor of bringing that one back!
  • 72Aggie
    Let's bring back "plunge for distance!" It was an Olympic event in 1904.
  • DrMike
    I think they test blood alcohol level; below 0.10 and you’re out!

    Here is a slew of events on ESPN Ocho (2) today. Putt putt golf, foosball, quite a gamut of sports
  • 72Aggie
    Pub sports might be a testing ground for future Olympic sports. Curling? Shuffleboard on ice. A sport where the equipment consists of a large flat rock and a broom.

    Could this lead to pub darts? That could make for some excitement.
  • Firefan17
    I was thinking of this thread when I stumbled on all of those competitions on ESPN 2 today. I must say I did get sucked in to watching a fair bit of the Air Hockey and out of pure morbid curiosity the Cow Chip Throwing Competition.
  • 72Aggie
    So I am up in the middle of the night because I am an old man...The listing for TV says women's gold medal water polo, which at least sounds interesting AND the USA is still in it AND the USA is the defending gold medalist....well the water polo match was apparently already over (USA did it again!) and I watch a woman doing a combination ballet and floor exercise with a hula hoop. That was followed by other women doing something similar with a child's playground ball. One thing that struck me was that they all wore sequined leotards and had their hair pulled up in buns, all looked like the synchronized swimmers without the nose plugs, (or I guess if it's one contestant it is "artistic swimming.") I don't doubt for a second that the artistic and synchronized swimmers are athletic. Some of them make water polo goalies look lame and they hold their breaths for an interminable period. All of this led me to think they should have somthing like the pentathlon where competitors (apparently mostly Eastern European women) compete in both rhythmic gymnastics and artistic swimming, perhaps with a ping-pong, er, table tennis, ball or badmitton shuttle cock...or curling stone.
  • 69aggie
    There is a fascinating (and perversely funny) article in todays NYTs about the growing problem of “Cheer Moms.” Remember the “Soccer Moms” of the ‘90s? Well according to this article the Cheer Moms have taken up their place in a very big way. This is not what you think about cheer leading. There is no Rah-rah. No go team go. In fact, no team at all. It is mostly very pushy moms pushing their daughters into cheer camps and competitions that are mostly about full face make up, lipstick and glitter. Lots of glitter and jumping around starting at the early ages of something 5-6 years old. According to the article this brand of cheer is second only to football in concussions. And no, its not a NCAA sport. It is not covered by T9. Interesting that one of the leading experts in this area is Dr. Laura Grindstaff, professor of sociology at U.C. Davis and she is quoted at some length in the article. She is not a fan. Sorry I can’t link it. Maybe someone else can.
  • 72Aggie
    The Highs and Lows of the ‘Cheer Mom’
    As a sport grows more competitive and demanding, an archetype has emerged.
    By Hayley Krischer
    Sept. 24, 2021
    Updated 2:54 p.m. ET
    By mid-January of this year, Kristin Wheeler, a self-described “cheer mom,” was exhausted. She was spending most of her days in the cheer gym or in the car with her bottomless cup of coffee while her 14-year-old daughter, Abby, a high school varsity and All Star cheerleader, practiced for major competitions.
    Like most cheer moms, Ms. Wheeler was also entrenched in squad fund-raisers, scheduling travel plans (March to May is the pinnacle of cheer season), heaving out emotional support, reapplying fake eyelashes and smearing glitter gel on her daughter’s cheeks.
    “I went into cheer saying, ‘over my dead body’ and ‘I’m not going to be one of those moms,’” Ms. Wheeler, a mother of two and a restaurant owner, said in a phone interview. But the next thing she knew she was up at 5 a.m. doing hair and makeup, and spending up to $10,000 a year on travel expenses, uniforms, competition fees and camps.
    And she’d started doing what many parents of teenagers do these days: She turned to TikTok.
    No, Ms. Wheeler, 38, didn’t do any dancing. She created an array of cheer mom characters, poking fun at herself and the stereotype of the domineering cheer mom that’s become a symbol of the overinvolved sports parent. There’s the naïve parent who’s overwhelmed by the commitment; the exhausted sports mom at the end of the season; and a group of cheer moms gossiping, calculating and obsessing over which squad their daughters will make.
    One video was especially popular. It depicted a peak tyrannical cheer mom who, in the voice of Cardi B — a popular meme — screams, “What was the reason?” over and over at the coach all because her daughter was taken out of the coveted flyer position.
    Mothers from all over — in person and on social media — approached Ms. Wheeler about the video. They felt seen, they told her. They felt understood. “The more awareness we bring to it, we can kind of say, OK, let’s take a step back and maybe not do that again,” she said, laughing. “Because we do crazy things when we’re broke and tired.”
    All Star cheer’s primary purpose is competition. Unlike typical high school or college sideline cheerleaders, whose objective is to uplift the crowd’s spirits, All Star cheerleaders don’t “cheer” for anyone in particular. There is no rah-rah. No go-team-go. All star cheerleaders practice up to seven days a week, all year around, spending hours upon hours in the gym, with heads often slamming into mats and shoulders collapsing under bleach-white cheer shoes. (According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, cheer is second only to football in the number of concussions during practice.)
    All of this emotion and tears and athleticism is poured into a hyper-aerobic, high-flying routine that lasts two and a half minutes, with wired parents watching their child’s every move.
    The U.S. All Star Federation spells out the “role of the parent” in a graphic-heavy guide that addresses topics including how to behave at events, when to call the coach and how gossip is damaging. But in recent years, some have seemed to struggle with boundaries.
    In the Headlines
    Cheer moms aren’t alone in being accused of atrocious sideline behavior. In the past few years, parents have brawled at a softball game, cursed each other out at a Little League game and have been ejected by the referee at a girls soccer game. A referee shortage is currently plaguing youth sports, with many jobs going unfilled in part because the verbal abuse from parents has gotten out of hand.
    Sign Up for The Great Read  Every weekday, we recommend one piece of exceptional writing from The Times — a narrative or essay that takes you someplace you might not expect to go. Get it sent to your inbox.
    Remember the soccer mom? In 1996, she was described in The New York Times as: “pacing the sidelines of her children’s games,” and she wore T-shirts emblazoned with slogans like “I don’t have a life. My kids play soccer.”
    In comparison to the caricature of the cheer mom, soccer moms were just a benign voting bloc. Cheer moms are often cast as more deranged, more calculating, more controlling — sometimes even vicious or villainous. Why?
    For one, a few have been in the headlines. In March, Raffaela Spone, a 50-year-old mother of two, was arrested on charges of harassing three girls from her daughter’s cheerleading squad. Ms. Spone allegedly sent texts and voice mail messages to the girls from an unknown number that said, “You have no friends” and “You should kill yourself.”
    According to a police report, a video that was allegedly doctored was also sent to the girls’ coaches at the Victory Vipers cheer gym in Doylestown, Pa. But in mid-May, the Bucks County district attorney’s office said evidence of the video being doctored was no longer clear. Ms. Spone declined to comment for this article. The case is scheduled to go to trial in October.
    In 2014, Andrea Clevenger, who appeared on the TLC show “Cheer Perfection” with her young daughter, went to prison after pleading guilty to one count of first-degree sexual assault and engaging a child in sexually explicit conduct; the victim was a 13-year-old boy. She was released in 2017 and is now on parole.
    But cultural fascination with cheer moms who commit crimes can probably be traced back to the Texas cheer mom Wanda Holloway, who in 1991 tried to hire someone to kill the mother of her 13-year-old daughter’s rival, in order to secure her daughter a spot on the high school cheerleading squad.
    Ms. Holloway’s face was plastered on entertainment and news shows, and she was sentenced to 15 years in prison. (Her defense lawyers petitioned successfully for a new trial, but before her case went to trial, she pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 10 years; six months later she was released on probation.) Two campy made-for-TV movies came out of it, including, in 1993, a Holly Hunter classic, “The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom.”
    It should serve as the perfect plot twist that Shanna Widner, Ms. Holloway’s daughter, didn’t even want to be a cheerleader to begin with.
    When Ms. Widner was 5, her mother convinced her it would be fun — the skirts, the pompoms. Then, Ms. Widner says now, it became this thing they were going to do, not something Ms. Widner herself wanted to do. Ms. Widner, who is now an English teacher near Humble, Texas, just north of Houston, tried to quit, but her mother wouldn’t allow it.
    “And then I got disqualified and she got arrested and it didn’t matter anymore,” said Ms. Widner, 44, with a nervous laugh during a phone conversation. (Her ability to laugh at herself may have come from the many hours of therapy she’s had to deal with her trauma.) “Part of me was really relieved,” she said.
    Now, when Ms. Widner sees parents getting into fights at sports events, she’s still amazed by it. “I’m fairly sure the kids are embarrassed when the parents act like that,” she said. “Parents think they’re doing it for their kids, but they’re causing damage. They don’t see the harm they’re causing.”
    Rah-Rah? Nah.
    Much has changed since Ms. Holloway was in the news, including cheerleading itself.
    There’s the rise of All Star cheer, a different beast than your regular sideline cheer squad. In 2019, more than 10,000 cheerleaders on 550 teams competed at the Cheerleading Worlds, according to the U.S. All Star Federation. (Known as the Super Bowl of cheer, Worlds was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic.)
    There is no question that All Star cheer is difficult and dangerous. But it doesn’t matter how much athleticism it takes: Cheerleading still isn’t considered a sport by the N.C.A.A. or by U.S. federal Title IX guidelines. In July, however, the International Olympic Committee recognized it, for the first time, though it is not yet an Olympic sport.
    Laura Grindstaff, a sociology professor at the University of California, Davis, who has studied the intersection of cheer and gender, said cheer’s girlie girl aesthetics detract from the status conferred upon football, hockey or baseball and other sports typically dominated by boys and men. “The hair ribbon, the makeup, the glitter, the bows, the crop top, the short skirt, the smiling, the head wag, the cheer fingers,” Dr. Grindstaff said. “It’s this hyper-feminine performativity that gets married to the athleticism and therefore compromises the athleticism.”
    Additionally, she said, there is sexism, including stereotypes around mothers and the idea that there is no higher calling in life than being one — and more, that mothers must help their children at all times.
    “So you have the sport itself that struggles for legitimacy,” Dr. Grindstaff said. “And then mothers themselves are perceived as over-invested in something that’s not even legitimate to begin with — so it’s double the disdain.”
    Social media has exacerbated the cheer mom-as-stage-mom archetype. She’s just as glamorous as her daughter. She wants to photograph her daughter looking her best, shoulders back, head up, pompoms in the air, arms raised in a V. She sends her daughter to the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleading camp. She posts countless photos with hashtags like #cheercompetition, #cheermomlife, #cheermomproblems and #mybabygirl. She gets slammed by coaches for micromanaging her daughter and pressures her to be a flyer. At major competitions, the cheer mom wraps her kid up in a banner like a champion.
    Just last year, the cheer parents John and Debbie Butler were accused by many on Twitter of capitalizing on and micromanaging their superstar cheerleading daughter Gabi, who appeared on the Netflix documentary series “Cheer” as a member of the Navarro College cheer team. In one episode, her mother told her daughter to eat jackfruit instead of eggs before a competition because jackfruit “can actually hold your stomach for 10 to 12 hours with no other food.”
    The internet went berserk. Gabi defended her parents on Twitter, and the director of the series, Greg Whiteley, said he owed them an apology. The Butlers did not respond to repeated requests to be interviewed for this article.
    The Compassionate Coach
    For the cheer moms who like to stay on the sidelines, who are doing it for their kid — and there are many of these parents — it’s a difficult sport to be part of.
    This is how it felt for Stephanie Rothrock of Yardley, Pa., a therapist and elementary school counselor. A friend encouraged her to bring her two oldest daughters, who were in the third and fourth grade at the time, to a highly competitive cheer practice.
    There, the coach told parents that cheer would be their No. 1 priority. Kids must show up to every practice. That if they have 104 temperature, you give them Tylenol. If they’re vomiting, they still come to the competition.
    Ms. Rothrock’s daughters were eager, but she found an alternative: a modified competition team with practices twice a week. “And if you were vomiting, you could stay home,” Ms. Rothrock said with a laugh.
    The girls had to wear a face full of makeup. Bright red lipstick and glitter everywhere. One mother went around doing wiglet checks to make sure the wigs were tight enough. Ms. Rothrock’s girls hadn’t even turned 10 yet, but they loved it: the stunt groups, being in the gym, competing.
    By the time Ms. Rothrock’s daughters were teenagers, she found it impossible to relate to the other parents. She likes to give people the benefit of the doubt, she said, but she had experiences that she wouldn’t want any child to have. When her daughter Aly Martin was 14, a mother screamed in Aly’s face. Ms. Rothrock described the woman as a “typical cheer mom” who was “trying to live through her daughter.”
    Ms. Martin, now 23 and a substitute teacher in Pennsylvania, recalled that year as filled with what she called “cheer drama” — fistfights and school suspensions, all antagonized by the cheer mom who screamed at her. The year culminated with a nasty rumor spread by members of the cheerleading team about her younger sister. Aly was told that she couldn’t join the team again, but that didn’t mean her cheer career was over.
    At 19, she became a junior cheer coach for the Pennsbury Falcons Cheerleading Association, about 40 minutes north of Philadelphia. They were a team of 14-year-olds with a rough reputation, and few people were willing to coach them.
    A majority of the parents were completely supportive, Ms. Martin said. Their kids were happy, so they were happy. Until one cheer mom who came into a practice as a backup coach got aggressive with the girls.
    According to Ms. Martin, the woman hovered over one of the cheerleaders and screamed at her until the girl got up from the mat, crying hysterically. “The girl was having an emotional day and didn’t want to be there,” Ms. Martin said. “But I don’t talk to kids like that. I’m positive. I told the mother, give her a second, don’t tear her down. My whole thing is they’re 15. They’re moody. They’re kids. Her mom didn’t have a problem with her not participating, so why did this woman?”
    Ms. Martin has a child of her own now, an infant girl. Despite everything she went through as a cheerleader, Ms. Martin would love for her daughter to cheer. She loves the team mentality, she loves supporting the other cheerleaders. She’d try to be an involved cheer mom — but not too involved. She’d let her daughter’s coaches do the coaching. And she’d sit in the stands and watch.

  • 72Aggie
    And another possibility for Olympic sports - competitive pillow fighting.

  • AggieFinn
    Bossy Coe Cow takes the gold.
  • 69aggie
    Great story in the NYTS about the show “Cheer” that has returned to very mixed reviews. Story is about a Dallas suburb JC Cheer team which is apparently “world class” in its “sport” which I have previously maligned. I retract all my previous negative posts here. These young women risk theirs lives on this activity. My only complaint is Why? They have more injuries than most men’s sports. Sad. Wish I could paste this article but I will learn soon
  • 72Aggie

    ‘Cheer’ Is Back. Here’s Where the Jerry Harris Case Stands.
    The Emmy-winning Netflix documentary series returns for a second season on Wednesday without its breakout star, who is awaiting trial in a case involving child sexual abuse imagery.
    By Sarah Bahr
    Jan. 11, 2022
    Updated 11:08 a.m. ET
    Last month, Netflix announced a surprise second season of its Emmy-winning documentary series “Cheer,” which follows a national champion cheerleading team from Navarro College, a small-town Texas community college.
    While the new season shifts the focus to a fresh group of cheerleaders, one recent graduate remains in the news: Jerry Harris, the Navarro cheerleader whose “mat talk” and constant optimism in Season 1 made him a talk-show darling, has cast a shadow over the show. Twin teenage boys sued Harris in September 2020, accusing him of sexual abuse. He was also arrested that month on federal child pornography charges and remains in custody.
    The nine-episode season addresses the case from the start and includes an hourlong episode featuring on-camera interviews with Harris’s former cheerleading teammates from Navarro; the team’s coach, Monica Aldama; the brothers who are suing Harris; their mother; and the USA Today reporters who broke the news.
    Here’s what to know about the accusations against Harris, who is now 22, the status of his case and where Season 2 picks up.
    What is Jerry Harris accused of?
    In September 2020, the twin brothers, who were then 14 years old, filed a lawsuit in Texas accusing Harris of sending them sexually explicit messages via text and social media, demanding they send him nude photos of themselves, and, while at a cheerleading competition in 2019, asking one of them for oral sex. Harris befriended the boys when they were 13 and he was 19, USA Today reported. Harris, of Naperville, Ill., was arrested by the F.B.I. in September 2020 and charged with production of child pornography.
    In a voluntary interview with the F.B.I. after his arrest, Harris acknowledged that he had exchanged sexually explicit photos on Snapchat with at least 10 to 15 people he knew were minors; had sex with a 15-year-old at a cheerleading competition in 2019; and paid a 17-year-old to send him nude photos.
    In the months that followed, federal agents interviewed other minors who said they had had relationships with Harris. In December 2020, they filed additional charges against him including four counts of sexual exploitation of children, one count of receiving and attempting to receive child pornography, one count of traveling with the attempt to engage in sexual conduct with a minor and one count of enticement, for a total of seven counts related to five minor boys. The indictment says these acts took place between August 2017 and August 2020 in Florida, Illinois and Texas. If convicted, Harris could face 15 to 30 years in federal prison.
    How has Harris responded to the accusations?
    In December 2020, he pleaded not guilty to the multiple felony charges. Harris’s lawyer, Todd Pugh, did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.
    Where does the new season of “Cheer” pick up?
    When we left the Navarro College team at the end of the first season, it was after they had won the 2019 junior college division of the National Cheerleaders Association and National Dance Alliance Collegiate National Championship in Daytona, Fla. Cue a “Today” show invite, an “Ellen DeGeneres Show” appearance and an “S.N.L.” parody.
    Season 2 began filming in January 2020 but came to a halt amid the pandemic shutdowns. The 2020 national championship was canceled because of Covid. Filming resumed in September 2020, tracking the team’s journey to the 2021 championship in April. (We won’t spoil it here, but if you want to know how they fared, well, we won’t stop you.)
    This season, the series follows the new cheer team as they get ready to compete against the rival Trinity Valley Community College. It also follows a few cast members from Season 1 (Gabi Butler, La’Darius Marshall, Lexi Brumback and Morgan Simianer all return).
    It addresses new challenges the team has faced since it claimed the 2019 title, including the departure of the head coach, Aldama, to compete on “Dancing With the Stars” in Los Angeles. She made it to Week 7 out of 11, but was 1,500 miles away from her squad when the allegations against Harris became public in September 2020.
    How does “Cheer” address the allegations?
    After Harris’s absence is mentioned in Episode 1, the show devotes almost the entire hour of Episode 5 to examining the case. It includes interviews with the twins, who discuss their decision to go public and the fallout from the accusations.
    The episode also includes interviews with Harris’s former teammates, who struggle to reconcile the bubbly, positive cheerleader they thought they knew with the crimes he is accused of committing. Aldama reveals that Harris wrote her a letter in which he said he hoped to become a motivational speaker one day.
    The one person we don’t hear from is Harris. In the press notes for the series, the “Cheer” director, Greg Whiteley, said he hadn’t talked to him, adding that Harris’s lawyers had prevented it. Netflix said Harris’s lawyers declined to comment for the series.
    Where is Harris now?
    Harris has been held without bond at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago since his September 2020 arrest after a judge suggested he would pose a danger to the public if released. No trial date has yet been set. A case status hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
  • fugawe09
    Competitive cheer is an interesting animal because with no national sanction like ncaa it is entirely privately owned. One side of the equation is Pop Warner cheer - technically non profit but the cash cow that keeps the youth football organization in business. The other side is Varsity Inc, privately held by a billionaire who owns pretty much every cheer league that isn’t Pop Warner, as well as vertical integrations like the companies that make the uniforms, produce the music, arrange the travel, and take the photos. These two organizations despise each other and kids don’t tend to participate in both simultaneously because the rules and techniques are different. The organizations trade barbs of who is more committed to safety vs profits. Varsity further has two camps- the school based teams and the private club teams. The deeply committed kids do both. By far the ugliest stuff happens on the private club teams because you’re dealing with people who have money, are willing to win at any cost, and who’s poor behavior goes unchecked until it rises to the level of involving the sheriff. The school teams behave a little better because they usually get the “don’t embarrass the school” talk from the principal. But in both cases you have kids being thrown in the air with really no safety equipment and “coaches” who’s only qualification was being a cheerleader 20 years ago. In fairness, inappropriate behavior from coaches of private teams is not limited to cheer. If there is one stereotype being broken, however, it is that cheer is no longer exclusively “hot girls”—they have grown to accept people of varying body sizes, gender ambiguities, and disabilities—anybody who has a parent with a checkbook.
  • 69aggie
    I seem to recall that UCD’s cheer squad was very inclusive and not limited to the “hotties”. Also recall that when they were at a game versus Hawaii the Hawaii guys on their broadcast team called them “the ugliest cheer team in the BWC.” So, there you go with the “inclusive” thing. . .
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