Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Sis! Boom! Bah! Humbug.

Principal Terrence Cutler: “When I heard that you were going to be subbing here, I almost lost my mind. Well, there’s something you need to know about, Kenny. You’re not the only athlete here at Jeff Davis. I happen to be training for a triathlon right now. So, I’m doing a lot of running. And cycling. Swimming. Well, you know all about that.”
Kenny Powers: “No, actually, I don’t. I play real sports. I’m not trying to be the best at exercising.”

The UIL’s decision to pilot competitive cheerleading reminds me of this scene from HBO’s “Eastbound & Down.” Kenny Powers is a wasted and washed-up professional baseball pitcher, thoroughly, unredeemingly obnoxious. I love the guy, and I’m certain he’d agree with me when I say, “Competitive cheerleading is not a real sport.”
Actually, it’s not any kind of sport. Why anyone thinks it is escapes me. I asked a couple of cheerleaders if they thought it should be, and, of course, they did, but they failed to provide a single compelling reason beyond, “Cheerleaders work hard.”
Well, that’s lame. So do the team managers.  Anyone thinking about an ankle-taping contest? Or, how about competitive PE?
In truth, cheerleading ranks up there with twirling, which is a UIL music competition even though it has nothing to do with music and everything to do with dance and digital dexterity. It remains a UIL solo-ensemble contest because of events described later, and, of course, because it’s saddle-stitched to marching band.
Well, two wrongs don’t make a right.
I have no objection to twirling or cheerleading as school activities. Twirling provides girls (and a handful of boys, I suppose) the opportunity to perfect their tossing and fetching skills, which might prove helpful later in life should they turn into border collies.
Cheerleaders, meanwhile, learn histrionics and facial contortions as well as flipping and bouncing and shaking things — real and inanimate —which, I suppose, is the perfect preparation for future marriage counseling sessions or school board meetings where sex education is discussed.
So, please, don’t accuse me of being prejudiced against cheerleaders or twirlers because I’m not. Fact is, my daughter was once a head-bobbing, ribbon-draped, fist-pumping junior high cheerleader who for two full years spoke only in all-caps and exclamation points, as in “GOOD MORNING, DAD!!! PASS THE TOAST!!!” which, in time, forced me to respond, “Can’t you just take drugs like all the other kids?”
Incidentally, I remember when UIL’s former director of music proposed dropping twirling as a state solo-ensemble music contest because — duh — twirling isn’t music. He provided a clear and reasoned argument to support his claim, and his proposal appeared destined to pass when the doors of the big hotel banquet room burst open, and in tromped every mascara-caked, metal-mouth mad-as-hell twirler east of IH35, along with their mothers and the owners and operators of the local twirling academy.
Over the next hour, they testified in their little pixie voices about how that mean old UIL director of music was ruining their lives and stealing their dreams, and their tears soaked their rhinestone outfits, fringe and all. And what about all the people who come to the football games just to watch them? What would happen to these people? Does anyone even care?
It wasn't meant rhetorically.
It didn't matter. The sweet old men sitting on the committee charged with legislating such matters wilted in the face of this lipstick blitzkrieg.
Suffice it to say, twirling remains a state music solo-ensemble contest, today, tomorrow and forever.
I suspect the same will happen once cheerleading gets its bow in the door. There’s little difference between a head bob and a head butt, and, like it or not, competitive cheerleading is certain to become a UIL “sport” after its one-year pom pilot. Go ahead. Stand up and holler.