Reg Henry at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a few things to say about the vague idiocy that, in Texas, qualifies as legislation. (Reprinted at Capitol Hill Blue.)
I can see why Texas lawmakers would want to put the clamps — or is it burkas? — on their cheerleaders. With their seductive melodic chants and nifty moves, they might unleash the birds and the bees both. Why, innocent young fellows in the stands could be provoked to un-football-like thoughts.
The problem, as I see it, is knowing where to draw the line. One person’s sexually suggestive cheerleading is another person’s nimble athletic maneuver. A good Christian cheerleader, dressed demurely head to toe in an overcoat, must still overcome the paradox that she is a young woman leaping around in front of a bunch of guys. This is not her fault, of course, and she is not to be blamed that she did not take up field hockey.
Still, tasteful cheerleading is a fine line to dance, and it would be a terrible tragedy if a faith-based pep squad were caught up in any sanction aimed at heathen vixens.
And then there’s the Christian Science Monitor, which takes a (predictably) more sober approach in exploring the issue.
In his 12 years of cheer coaching and judging, Eric Howze says he has seen maybe five routines that he felt were too sexual.
“It’s a rare, rare thing,” says Mr. Howze, owner and director of the Southwest Cheer Academy in Safford, Texas. Further, he says, lewdness and provocativeness are all in the eyes of the beholder.
“If I go to a hockey game and in the third period a fight breaks out, and I walk away saying, ‘hockey is violent,’ I have missed three periods of excellent skating, great stick work, and wonderful line changes,” he says. “This legislation is much the same way.”
And even if a particular routine does occasionally cross the line, Howze continues, parents are the ones who should be monitoring it. They are the ones who enroll their kids in cheer schools and watch practices.
“Being in Texas, which is a huge Christian-based state … I don’t feel it is the right of somebody else to come in and do the parenting job that somebody else should be able to do,” he says.
Representative Al Edwards, the bill’s sponsor, wants to bring the discussion back to what he feels is the nut of the issue — that high school cheerleaders are sleazy.
“We are telling teenagers not to have sex, but are teaching them how to do it on the football field and applauding them when they do it,” says Rep. Al Edwards of Houston, who sponsored the bill.
He says that over the years, he has watched cheerleading routines get racier and uniforms get tinier - a “distracting” trend that in his view encourages teen pregnancy, boosts dropout rates, and increases the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.