|Prospective Oilers cheerleaders meet at an info session last week (photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club)
I am not normally one to wade into a controversy. It's not my style and I'm not a big fan of confrontation but maybe it's easier to do when it's blog to blog or article to article then face to face. What I'm talking about is the response to the Edmonton Oilers decision to become the first Canadian team to go with cheerleaders or a cheer team.
When I saw the release that Edmonton had decided to do this I thought ok some people will like it some people won't now let's get back to talking about Taylor Hall
or the special teams or something about what's happening on the ice and not what's going to happen in the stands.
As is the case when anything holding an ounce of potential controversy becomes known, those that dislike it heavily outweigh those that like it when it comes to making their feelings known and being vocal about it.
I think the reason this struck a cord with me is because I was in my vehicle and brought the topic up with my wife and my 9 year old daughter overheard what we were talking about the Oilers and the cheer team. Her first response was "Can I sign up?". My daughter has, for the past few years joined, and had a great time being part of the Edmonton Eskimos mini cheerleaders squad.
They get together in May and practice once a week until they get to perform at halftime at the pre-season home game. She has absolutely loved the experience. I told her I didn't think that the Oilers would have a mini cheerleading team but if they did we would definitely try and get her signed up. Now I understand that what a 9 year old looks like is not the same as a 19 year old or what my daughter wears isn't the same as a young woman who might make a cheer team.
However I really don't get all the negative sentiment surrounding the idea. First off 23 other teams in the NHL do it so it's not like they are the first and last time I checked no one is complaining about the Eskimos having cheerleaders (sorry I don't mean to drag the football team into this.) and to take it one step further don't the Edmonton Rush have cheerleaders as well?
I get that not everyone will like this and some will complain about it but why not give them a chance? Before we've even seen them let's give the Oilers the opportunity to do this and do it the right way. In this ever changing world of sporting events entertainment is a big part of it. Also have enough faith in the hockey team that these young ladies won't be brought out in next to nothing. If you want next to nothing you can hop on the internet these days and get that..for free. I'd be a little more concerned with what my kids are able to access on t.v. and on the laptop then what they might see from a group of cheerleaders.
I get the concept of "Sex sells" but for those that have loudly complained about this do you think that's what the Oilers are trying to do? They've sold out 200 regular seaon games, they've got the makings of a team that could be exciting for the next decade. I don't think they're doing this to put another 20-30 or 100 people into Rexall Place. The Oilers have always have been pro-active not re-active when it comes to running their organization..mark this done as another attempt at that.
I don't know if this will work but I also don't think there is any harm in trying it. I get it that ladies reading this blog might say..oh you're a man what do you care? but I do care especially when it comes to my 9 year old daughter. I would never do anything to put her in a situation that was dark and dirty and would make her feel worthless as a woman to be. I don't see cheerleading as that.
The experience of working with the Esks mini-cheerleaders has made her more confident and more comfortable in public. She's also in gymnastics and it's allowed her another avenue to use her athletic ability. These girls can move and have to if they want a chance to be a cheerleader. Hey I'll admit in 10 or 15 years from now if my daughter wants to be a cheerleader my first question would be "What kind of outfit are you wearing?." If the answer to that was satisfactory my response would be as well and I'd be the first to cheer her on.