Equal Opportunity Cheerleading
As I post this, I find myself amused that school districts are attempting to legislate the sexuality they pretend to ignore. At the end of the day, cheerleading really is all about sexuality.
“It feels funny when we do it,” said Amanda Cummings, 15, the cheerleading co-captain, who forgot the name of a female basketball player mid-cheer last month.
Whitney Point is one of 14 high schools in the Binghamton area that began sending cheerleaders to girls’ games in late November, after the mother of a female basketball player in Johnson City, N.Y., filed a discrimination complaint with the United States Department of Education. She said the lack of official sideline support made the girls seem like second-string, and violated Title IX’s promise of equal playing fields for both sexes.
But the ruling has left many people here and across the New York region booing, as dozens of schools have chosen to stop sending cheerleaders to away games, as part of an effort to squeeze all the home girls’ games into the cheerleading schedule.
Boys’ basketball boosters say something is missing in the stands at away games, cheerleaders resent not being able to meet their rivals on the road, and even female basketball players being hurrahed are unhappy.
In Johnson City, students and parents say they have accepted the change even as they question the need for it.
Several cheerleaders there recalled a game two years ago, long before the complaint, when the squad decided at the last minute to cheer for the girls’ team because a boys’ game was canceled.
The cheers drowned out directions from the girls’ coach, frustrated the players, and created so much tension that the cheerleaders left before halftime.
“They asked, ‘Why are you here?’ ” recalled Joquina Spence, 18, a senior cheerleader. “We told them, ‘We’re here to support you,’ and it was a problem because they kept yelling at us.”