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Dropping cheerleaders the right move for Raiders, fans

By Rebecca Vassarotti - 12 January 2017 17

The Emeralds, the Raiders cheerleading squad. Photo: Emeralds' Facebook page

Congratulations to the Canberra Raiders, who have made the right call with dropping their cheerleading squad and replacing them with a dance competition. It’s a gutsy move aimed at bringing more women and children to games, and is a signal that some of our major sporting clubs are getting the message that they have a role to play in improving gender stereotypes. While it’s a few years after the South Sydney Rabbitohs dumped cheerleaders, it will be interesting to see whether other major clubs make a similar decision.

While the club denies that the move is because of negative views of cheerleading, and academics such as Catherine Lumby suggests that cheerleading has a place in the sport, I for one am relieved that I don’t have to explain to my sons or daughter what this part of the match entertainment is all about.

Have the Canberra Raiders made the right call in ditching game day cheerleaders?

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For me, cheerleading at a rugby league game is confusing at best. It’s an American tradition and is not a part of any other Australian football competition. At its worst, it invites spectators to objectify and sexualise women. It can create narrow and negative gender stereotypes and can reinforce a perception that the only role for women in the game of rugby league is on the sidelines. While many people are merely enjoying the dancing, those who argue there isn’t another element will have a hard time convincing me when I see the photos used on the current Raiders cheerleading group Emeralds’ Facebook page to promote their troupe (pictured immediately below), or the photos used in their 2015 calendar that was endorsed by and sold as part of Canberra Raiders merchandise.

The Emeralds, the Raiders cheerleading squad. Photo: Emeralds' Facebook page

I can understand the disappointment of the young women who are part of the current Raiders cheerleading squad. I am sure they trained hard, and were involved in a range of activities including charity work. I don’t dispute that cheerleading can be athletic, requires skill and can be entertaining. However, in the context of a rugby league match it adds little to the spectacle and raises concerns about what we think about the role of women in the sport.

The NRL has demonstrated in recent years an understanding of the need to improve its response to domestic violence, sexual assault and inappropriate behaviour of its players, who are held up as role models for young people. It has done some good work to introduce respectful relationships programs and respond much more strongly when issues arise with players and others. As with other codes of sport, it is now beginning to realise that women on the field might be a way to bring more spectators to the sport and be a much better complement to the male competition.

This move is part of the journey for the NRL to become more gender sensitive, and it’s great to see our local Canberra Raiders leading the way.

Here’s the cheerleaders’ own response to the news on their Facebook page:

What do you think? Do you see cheerleading as appropriate game day entertainment or something that should be removed from the game?

What’s Your opinion?


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17 Responses to
Dropping cheerleaders the right move for Raiders, fans
1
John Moulis 9:58 am
12 Jan 17
#

I think the idea of cheerleaders is fairly outdated. I would like to see alternate forms of dance used as the entertainment. Country line dancing and Morris dancing spring to mind. The Raiderettes might have been appropriate in 1982 when the Raiders first began but I think we have moved on since then.

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2
twiggy6 10:33 am
12 Jan 17
#

“While many people are merely enjoying the dancing, those who argue there isn’t another element will have a hard time convincing me when I see the photos used on the current Raiders cheerleading group Emeralds’ Facebook page to promote their troupe (pictured immediately below), or the photos used in their 2015 calendar that was endorsed by and sold as part of Canberra Raiders merchandise.” – I suppose the same goes for the firefighters who raise funds by selling calendars as well?

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3
No_Nose 11:29 am
12 Jan 17
#

Conversely the International Olympic Commitee have only recently recognised ‘Cheerleading’ as an Olympic Sport with hopes to introduce it full time in 2024.

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4
K_c24 12:35 pm
12 Jan 17
#

Well considering cheerleading could well be an Olympic sport one day, http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/38248050, you are wrong.

This is just another politically correct outrage over something that has little to no impact on the people expressing their outrage. If the Emerald girls are happy to go out there and do their thing each week and the Raiders are happy to pay them what they are worth to do it then what is the issue? Raiders management seem to have only taken the decision due to outside pressure.

Evidently, cheerleading is now considered a sport in it’s own right and if performing at football matches gives these athletes the arena they require to undertake their sport then why not? It’s women involved on the field and in the game like the article suggests they should be but for whatever reason the writer is only able to see these women as sexualised objects instead of the athletes they are.

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5
Mysteryman 2:01 pm
12 Jan 17
#

I can’t keep up with what we, as a society, are being told we’re to think. Let me confirm.

Prositution & stripping/exotic dancing = empowering women and good.
Cheerleading = exploiting women and bad.

Is that where we’re at now?

There’s a certain amount of irony in a woman taking a stand against gender stereotypes by telling telling other women what they shouldn’t be doing.

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6
Amanda L 3:25 pm
12 Jan 17
#

I feel really disappointed in the comments of the Author – my read on her article was that women can be anything they want to be as long as it isn’t a cheerleader as this role/sport/dancer somehow empowers negative stereotypes in sport/life? If this is the case, and some of the remarks I have seen suggest that it can be, surely it’s our aim to educate the person making the remarks not blame the athlete/dancer for what is said or written about them. I don’t want to be antagonistic however, the same could be said about Victor the Viking (as Mascots are not common place at Australian Sports) nor is the Viking Clap – but they all add to the afternoon’s entertainment (and I really wouldn’t want these to be removed either). I hope the message your children receive is that they should be very proud that they follow a club that gave 15 local Canberra girls the opportunity to perform in front crowds of upto 25,000 people (a thrill not a lot of dancers enjoy) – and I also hope that it’s an opportunity that, one day, the girls competing in the Dance Competition may have. Because, if we believe this article, once they turn 18 their passion becomes a negative stereotype.

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7
2604 10:00 pm
12 Jan 17
#

To paraphrase the great David Burge:

Scantily-clad attractive women = sexist and demeaning
Scantily-clad unattractive women = brave and empowering

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8
gooterz 11:42 pm
12 Jan 17
#

Modern feminism at its finest.
Apparently women can’t choose not to objectify themselves. We need someone else to do it for us all.

If Canberra had a beach it would be clear that this makes less than no sense.
Its the same groups that are trying to ban junk foods for kids that also say that being a plus sized model is good.

I’m just outraged at the outrage.

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9
wildturkeycanoe 6:40 am
13 Jan 17
#

“This move is part of the journey for the NRL to become more gender sensitive, and it’s great to see our local Canberra Raiders leading the way.”
If having women dancing on the sidelines is considered sexist, what about the men on the field in their tight shorts, flexing their muscle for the audience? Sexism and gender equality goes both ways and I am sure there are just as many women in the audience drooling over players as there are men drooling over the cheer-leading squad. Once again we see political correctness gone mad and destroying something enjoyable that has been with us for generations. Darn those fun police.

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10
devils_advocate 11:37 am
13 Jan 17
#

gooterz said :

Modern feminism at its finest.
Apparently women can’t choose not to objectify themselves. We need someone else to do it for us all.

If Canberra had a beach it would be clear that this makes less than no sense.
Its the same groups that are trying to ban junk foods for kids that also say that being a plus sized model is good.

I’m just outraged at the outrage.

I was heartened to see that all the girls pictured – all very attractive – represented a diverse range of body types within the parameters of the athleticism required by their role. Clearly they enjoyed what they were doing, and probably derived some intangible benefits (be it confidence, self-esteem, or simple camaraderie) from doing it.
Rather than creating “narrow and negative gender stereotypes” I would have thought it would represent a celebration of body diversity in a healthy way.
Shame that political correctness has now put an end to it.

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11
themitch 12:29 pm
13 Jan 17
#

“I don’t dispute that cheerleading can be athletic, requires skill and can be entertaining. However, in the context of a rugby league match it adds little to the spectacle and raises concerns about what we think about the role of women in the sport.”

Well said. Let’s face it, promoting this type of cheerleading (as opposed to the Olympic-standard sport) sends a terrible message to female fans. Hopefully the NRL will follow the AFL’s lead and introduce a women’s comp so young girls in the audience can aspire to something other than shaking their bodies for entertainment.

(And what a lot of people call ‘political correctness’ is really just treating people with respect.)

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12
Blen_Carmichael 2:52 pm
13 Jan 17
#

This article has opened my eyes in many respects. I admit I was one of the many spectators who felt the cheerleaders exercised their full choice and delighted in their role. That’s what it looks like on the surface. Look closely as they wave those pom poms and wear those big smiles. There are real tears in those eyes, a resentment at this patriarchal indenture. “Oh for a angel of mercy to come along and break me free of these gender stereotypes” I heard one cry. “Why earn a good wage while exercising when I could be undergoing women’s studies at a mediocre tertiary institution” cried another.

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13
No_Nose 3:49 pm
13 Jan 17
#

themitch said :

Let’s face it, promoting this type of cheerleading (as opposed to the Olympic-standard sport) sends a terrible message to female fans. Hopefully the NRL will follow the AFL’s lead and introduce a women’s comp so young girls in the audience can aspire to something other than shaking their bodies for entertainment.

(And what a lot of people call ‘political correctness’ is really just treating people with respect.)

You mean just treating people with the type of respect along these lines?

“Look at these poor women doing a job that they clearly enjoy and are good at. They are obviously too stupid to know they are being exploited, luckily I am here to save them. They should live their lives by my rules even if it means they lose their jobs. How dare they think for themselves.”

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14
Masquara 8:53 pm
13 Jan 17
#

Can someone please explain to my why burlesque is feminist and hip, while cheerleading is anti-woman, dated and verboten?

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15
gooterz 9:42 pm
13 Jan 17
#

themitch said :

“I don’t dispute that cheerleading can be athletic, requires skill and can be entertaining. However, in the context of a rugby league match it adds little to the spectacle and raises concerns about what we think about the role of women in the sport.”

Well said. Let’s face it, promoting this type of cheerleading (as opposed to the Olympic-standard sport) sends a terrible message to female fans. Hopefully the NRL will follow the AFL’s lead and introduce a women’s comp so young girls in the audience can aspire to something other than shaking their bodies for entertainment.

(And what a lot of people call ‘political correctness’ is really just treating people with respect.)

Does respecting others include respecting their decisions about what they do?
This government wants to fight an obesity epidemic, we just lost their mascots.

Political correctness has just made us weak:
72 years ago 18 year olds went off to wars to fight.
Today 18 year olds we have safe spaces because world is a dangerous place.

Respect is earned and not just given freely. Cheerleaders work hard and earn respect, how is banning them respecting them or their choices?

It seems the offence is more that some are upset that they look good.
If that’s the case why not also ban plastic surgery and makeup which makes women look good but doesn’t let them respect how they look naturally?
Again I don’t think you care and just want to bring down others to your level.

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