I read an article on Rivals, which is a website dedicated to high school athletics, that got me really angry. I’ll summarize, but in case you want to read the full article, here is the link.
The gist of it is that a cheerleading mom in Texas sued the school her daughter went to (and cheered for) because she did not make the cheerleading team. The suit alleges that there were Title IX violations equating to gender-based discrimination. The cheer mom’s case was thrown out in a lower level Federal court. She took it to the Federal Court of Appeals. That court wrote a hilariously scathing opinion of the cheer mom and upheld the previous court’s ruling.
Now, if you actually believed your daughter was a victim of some form of unlawful discrimination, I would be completely supportive of seeking out a legal remedy. HOWEVER, this was clearly not the case. The mom’s suit actually states that one instance of discrimination was that the captain of her daughter’s cheer team should have been, and was not, dismissed from the cheer team for having kissed the other cheerleader’s boyfriend. ARE YOU SERIOUS??? This crazy cheer mom tried to (literally) make a federal case out of what is essentially a teenage romantic rivalry.
The crazy cheer mom’s lawsuit goes on to make various other ridiculous claims. You should read them. They are rather funny. I’ll just point out one more example that I think illustrates how delusional this idiot was. The crazy cheer mom actually cited as evidence of Title IX discrimination that other cheer mom’s on the team threatened to sue her (the crazy cheer mom) if she (the crazy cheer mom) did not return video tapes that belonged to the cheer team.
Let that sink in for a second….ok, here we go. So the crazy cheer mom stole property from the team (ok, she probably borrowed it, but then refused to return it). The team asked for it back. The crazy cheer mom did not return it. The team did the proper thing which was to pursue the matter lawfully in the civil courts (the crazy cheer mom probably would have called the FBI). And somehow, that action equated to gender-based discrimination against the crazy cheer mom’s daughter. Huh???
First, I want to say a great big thank you to the court for getting it right. Apparently, they dismissed the case as swiftly as the law would allow, wasting as little time and resources as possible. Our courts are way over-burdened with legitimate legal actions as it is. People like the crazy cheer mom not only waste tax dollars but also delay the resolution of important legal matters.
I also want to thank the court for smacking down the crazy cheer mom in their written opinion. They don’t pull any punches, even going so far as to compare the crazy cheer mom’s writing to that of a 4th grader. It’s good stuff!
But the point of this blog is not merely to go off on a rant about the crazy cheer mom. There are actually lessons to be learned here.
The first has to do with the image of cheerleading. Guess what folks. Cheerleading is the butt of a lot of jokes. Will Ferrell made his name in comedy on Saturday Night Live, and his most famous skit was making hilarious fun of cheerleading. The movie, Dodgeball, has an entire subplot that is completely unrelated to the rest of the movie that does nothing but make fun of competitive cheerleading. Even movies that have tried to make cheerleading mainstream, like Bring It On, play into cheerleading stereotypes. A lot of folks in the cheerleading community don’t like this prevailing social opinion of cheerleading and have blamed the media for portraying cheerleading in such a light. Guess what. The media is not to blame. We are. And by “we,” I mean cheerleader, coaches and parents who, like the crazy cheer mom, act like idiots. Remember, part of cheerleading is supposed to be about representing your community, school or organization in a proper way. That is an extra responsibility that cheerleaders are supposed to accept. So when one of our own does something irresponsible and stupid (like the crazy cheer mom), it should be looked at with greater scrutiny than if the same mistake was made by a different student or athlete. That’s just the way it is, so we have to be mindful and not make those kinds of mistakes in judgement.
Another lesson we can take from the crazy cheer mom incident is that cheerleaders need to treat each other nicely. Look, the crazy cheer mom was crazy. No disputing that. But if she felt so strongly that her daughter was being singled out and picked on, maybe she was. That’s no justification for bringing a federal suit against someone. But still, we should not tease or exclude anyone on our team. Cheerleading is hard enough when everyone is working together. It is impossible when people on the team are being petty, uncooperative or cruel to each other. The daughter of the crazy cheer mom might have been odd. She might have dressed funny. She might not have been very talented. Who knows. There is usually someone on every team that doesn’t really fit in with everyone else. Those are your teammates that you should be the most supportive and inclusive of. They are your opportunity to do the right thing. That is especially true of the leaders on the team. I don’t know if the captain was right or wrong for allegedly kissing the alleged boyfriend of the daughter of the crazy cheer mom. Regardless of that, this team clearly had personality issues for things to have gotten all the way to federal court. Those personality issues should have been worked out by the girls on the team. If everyone on the team had been thoughtful and supportive and really cared about each other, I can’t help but believe things never would have gotten so out of hand in the first place.
There is a cliché that I believe is true. It goes like this. “No one is completely useless. Everyone can at LEAST serve as a bad example.” Well crazy cheer mom, thank you for being a bad example. While this kind of publicity is bad for the image of cheerleading (makes me cringe thinking about it), at least we can try to learn from it. Cheerleaders, be inclusive of your teammates. Reach out to the ones that are struggling to fit in. Communicate with each other when there are problems. Work them out. Coaches, when there are things that the kids aren’t working out, you need to step in. Communicate with the parents early so there are no misunderstandings. Let the school administration know if there are ongoing issues that you are struggling with. And parents, including you crazy cheer mom, let’s keep things in perspective. Cheerleading is a wonderful activity, but remember, it’s only cheerleading. In the future, try not to make a national joke of yourself, waste tax payer money and Federal Court’s time because of a cheerleading issue.