Thursday, May 05, 2005

Friday Night Rights, Flagging the Cheerleaders

The headline: Texas House to Cheerleaders: Don't Shake It by CNN.

We take our football very seriously in Texas. It's more like a religion than an extracurricular activity. Under those Friday Night Lights, high school heros are made. Sometimes, it's a kick-off return for a touchdown, sometimes it's a fumble recovery, and sometimes it's just a completed pass for a first down; in a small town, each is more important to the community than to the athlete.

When people ask me where I'm from, I say Temple, but only because the town I actually lived in was known more for the small racetrack hidden behind rows of trees along the river the city is named after than anything else. In Texas, the only way a small town can get state-wide notoriety is if the local football team repeatedly makes trips through the state playoffs and collects a trophy on occassion. It's not the strength of the academic team or the band or the volleyball team - it's the large-town sports page headlines the football team claims.

For people like me who didn't have the talent to compete on Friday nights, going to the games as anything other than a spectator was the next best thing. I was in the band, like the cheerleading squad and PTA, I was at every game - home and away. I was part of the tradition, if only in its shadows. The games were social gatherings; even student spectators dressed-up in clubbing-like clothes - you never knew who would come up and ask you to a Saturday night entire week of school comes to a head on Friday night. Parents go to support their children; students go to be recognized.

The guys on the field represent the heroic males we wish we were and the cheerleaders symbolize a fragile, puberty-stricken innocence growing up. Now, the State of Texas wants to set vague and obscure limitations on this innocence like a parent scared of letting go to their college-bound child.

The law and commentary here by the Burnt Orange Report.

A faculty member sponsors the cheerleading squad, plans the routines, and advises the girls on what is right and what is inappropriate - let these sponsors do their jobs; let them teach. Instead of legislating morality and tying the hands of these sponsors behind their backs, the Texas Legislature needs to focus on why the Texas Education system is one of the worst in the country.

What goes on during a Friday night football game is lot bigger than just suggestive dancing; it's adolescence - a part of growing up. Whether or not this legislation makes an impact on Friday night football is not going to affect what happens after the lights go out by the river. Worry about what the instructors are teaching in class from Monday thru Friday. Worry about what happens after the game. Cheerleaders do not dance in front of the Texas Legislature, they dance in front of their parents, the parents of their friends, and the entire community. If we have to legislate what goes on in front of the public eye, then we have much larger problems.


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