Editor’s note: Amanda Kosior, wife of illegal curve’s very own Kyle Kosior, responds to David’s cheerleader column from yesterday. To see the column originally penned by David, click here
Because the average reaction to one woman criticizing another is a cat hiss and a “Well, she’s just a jealous bitch” comment, I feel the need to preface this piece with the following: In general, I like sports cheerleaders and dancers a lot. In fact, I was one.
So, before you think that I’m some angry, goth chick who is using this as a platform to get back at all of the pretty, popular girls who wronged me a zillion years ago, let me say with no humility whatsoever that I was one of those sweet little tarts who wore my dance team uniform too short on football and basketball game days, had long hair and sparkly lip gloss, and slept with one of the stars of the hockey team. I was even the dance captain.
And so I ask this with all the love and affection of an old pom-pom girl –
What is the fucking point of hockey cheerleaders?
As the wife of a hockey guy (a different one than the aforementioned – I get around), I spend many, many, many winter (and spring, and fall) nights traveling the globe in pursuit of a hockey game. I’d estimate I saw 25 live games this season, which meant that I had the opportunity to check out hockey cheerleaders (and dancers, but for the sake of semi-brevity, I’ll just call them all cheerleaders) on at least a dozen occasions.
My intense research has led me to break down hockey cheerleading performances into the following categories:
1. The Siteline Blocker. This consists of the girls standing on every-other stair on one of the lower levels and holding pom-poms. When the puck stops and the music starts, many of them will move said poms in a semi-coordinated fashion; others will talk to the people sitting nearby, a couple will wave to their friends, and the rest will jockey in and out of the way for people trying to get back to their seats. If there isn’t any music, they will just shake their pom-poms back and forth. So far, I have yet to hear a single cheer come out of any of their mouths during this time, even though they are about as close to the fans as they can get (in fact, at one game, the entire section started a “Hey, hey, whaddaya say” chant, and the cheerleaders just smiled and waved their poms – they must not have known that one). My husband, who is a man faithful to his gender and, as a result, gives certain allowances to anything in a short skirt that he would not normally give to the average person, once grumbled that a cheerleader was in his line of sight during an important play, causing him to miss it. Travesty. Of course, the whole point of attending a game in person is to actually see the game, which is why the ushers won’t let people back into their seats until the play is stopped. Sticking a bunch of girls (even scantily-clad ones) in the way of the ice seems counterproductive to this point.
2. The Behind-the-Glass-10-Feet-Above-the-Ice-in-the-End Peepshow: Some arenas have now built raised platforms on one or both of the ends for uninterrupted cheerleading performances. No siteline problems for the fans, no potential stairway disasters for the girls – a seemingly genius move. However, this spot poses two problems: 1) they are on one side of the arena, meaning that one-half of the fans can’t really see them, if they are looking at all – no offense to the girls, but there is an actual game going on elsewhere; and 2) this means that the girls now have to perform the entire game, which I have yet to see happen at a non-NHL event (those NHL cheerleaders are hardcore – they bust-a-move the entire time). Most of the time, a couple of them are doing what they did on the stairs – waving to friends, blah, blah, blah. But now they are next to each other instead of in front of one another, which means they also get the opportunity to chat. Without fail, whenever the arena cam flashes to the platform, most are dancing, but a couple are always whispering to one another behind their poms. When they realize they are on camera, most of them shrug it off with a “We didn’t know anyone was looking.” No shit.
3. The Welcoming Committee: At the beginning of each period, the cheerleaders form a line on both sides of the door to cheer on the players as they step onto the ice…or at least create a human pathway, since I haven’t heard too much “Yay, go team!” being shouted by the ladies as of yet. I am not sure why the girls need to be there for this introduction – who is looking at them? Certainly not the fans; they are much more interested in the players (since, you know, it’s a hockey game). Can the guys not find their way to the arena? Is Jonathan Toews wandering around the hallways, confused, until he sees a shiny beacon of pom-poms and pretty ladies to guide him to the ice?
Today’s hockey games are a cluster-fuck of constant stimulation. The only single-activity-moments are when the actual puck is moving; the moment it stops, the music starts, the ribbon advertising flashes, the scoreboard shows shots of fans around the arena, the mascot begins jumping around…it was only a matter of time before someone said, “Hey, we should have some naked girls, too!” I get it. But why cheerleaders? There aren’t any cheerleaders in a number of professional sports (baseball comes to mind) – why does hockey need cheerleading?
If your argument is that cheerleaders attract more men to the sport and make it more of an entertainment experience, I think the arena cam has satisfied that need for free. I recently attended a game in Edmonton (a cheerleader-less team, by the way), where every second that the camera was not on the ice, it was in the stands, pointed at a hot girl – and believe me, each one was hotter than the next. By the time they got to the third period, even I was watching the scoreboard in anticipation of mind-banging the next chickie. Oh, and the game was sold out. Team spirit = solid. Cheerleaders = unnecessary.
“But Amanda,” you say, “These girls want to walk around in mini-shirts and low-cut tops! We’re just thinking of them!”
I dig ya. But a woman’s need to allow her boobies to roam free also doesn’t require a cheerleading uniform. Case in point: I was at an USHL game this season where five or six Hooters girls were retained to don the typical Hooters ensemble for the length of the game. They weren’t handing out fliers or free chicken wings or doing little dances – they were literally just walking around the concourse and taking pictures with boozy men. Ta-Tas? Check. Little outfits? Check. Cheerleaders? Nope. As far as I could tell, they didn’t even go into the actual ice bowl and man, oh, man, were they popular.
However, I understand the male desire for cheerleaders is as great as that for Catholic schoolgirls, and so, rather than a call for elimination, I’d like to offer up a compromise: why not treat these cheerleaders as actual entertainment, and send them out to the center of the ice to perform during one, or both, intermissions? Roll out a carpet (that’s what she said) if you don’t want them on skates. Then, for the rest of the game, you can either let them prance around the halls for photo ops, or wander around the club level for an added bonus to the big money, or just sit their butts in their locker room and wait.
But would people like it, you ask? During a late-season game, I watched the cheerleaders line up on the sides of the boards near the end of second intermission in preparation for their Welcoming Committee pathway. The Zamboni had left the ice, and one of those songs that has dance steps began to play (not the Macarena – the other one). The two guys who scoop the ice after the Zamboni took this as their opportunity and ran to the center of the face-off circle and began to bust a move…and the crowd went NUTS. They danced the entire song, and when they were done, the dude sitting next to me said, “Now that’s entertainment.” You don’t say?
And yes, I am jealous of those Thrasher girls. If my ass looked like that, I’d wear little cowboy boots to hockey games, too.
For Illegal Curve, I’m Amanda Kosior