Recently, former NFL cheerleaders for what is today the Washington Football Club filed a complaint about what they called secretly-shot nude pictures. (The photos came to light during the investigation into now disgraced former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden.) The women are angry because the pictures, which were taken during a swimsuit shoot, were distributed to league personnel via e-mail.
I immediately wondered what a photographer was doing in a changing room. After all, how else would these naked pictures have been captured? No one has explained, so I will leave it alone.
My next thought was how, in 2021, do we still have cheerleaders. And I don’t just mean at the professional sports level. I’m talking about college, high school, and youth-sports cheerleaders.
I can now see you pro-cheer types leaping from your chairs, but please stop hyper-ventilating and give me a moment to explain.
I have a couple of complaints. One is how sexualized cheerleaders have become. I suppose if you’re an adult and you want to shake your barely-covered body in front of a crowd of screaming fans you have that right. But when I consider girls performing this way, I’m disturbed. Even worse is watching the sideline mommies grinning at their little darlings during Pop Warner football games as seven-year-olds shake their non-existent boobs and bend over, bouncing up and down, putting their baby bottoms on full display. I have watched these women and believe they are the female equivalent of the rabid, youth–football dad. You know, the one who got cut from his freshman team and is now living vicariously through Junior. Same with the women. They probably never made the cheer squad and are counting on their daughters to do it for them. Yes, I sound harsh. But that’s the way I feel.
Who am I to complain, you ask? I spent four decades officiating youth and high school football games, another 15 as a sports reporter at both the local and national levels, and 20 years as a high school teacher. I’ve seen cheerleaders perform all along the way, and I always had the same thought. “Geez, ladies, can’t you find something better to do?”
Because I don’t want to come off completely one-sided, I popped on my reporter’s cap and did a little investigating to see if my beliefs are unfounded. I read one article that said cheerleading is good for girls because cheer builds self-esteem and performance skills and is good exercise. Okay, but all sports provide these benefits. Still, while I do realize that high school associations across the country have identified cheer as a competitive sport, I just don’t buy it.
The problem, of course, is girls standing on the sidelines. It’s not like we’re still pre-Title IX, the 1972 statute that required all educational institutions that received federal funds to provide equal access to sports and activities for girls. In olden times, perhaps cheerleading was all that was available, but that’s no longer the case. And in 2021 should young ladies be doing nothing but rooting for boys to win? (Yes, I understand cheerleaders sometimes appear at girls sports, but that is not the norm.)
Now, let’s look again at those who cheer at professional games. They are, not surprisingly, beautiful women, because who among us would want to squeeze into those tiny, revealing costumes if we didn’t look nice? And that’s the part that worries me. Are little girls drawn to cheerleading because they get to look pretty when they’re out there shaking what they’ve got? All bows and makeup and sparkles? I find the idea sad and as far from sports as one can get.
In my world an athlete plays her heart out, sweats, gets dirty and scraped up, then walks off the field messy-headed and happy, knowing she did her best. The girls who remain on the sideline reapplying lipgloss and checking those false eyelashes will never understand. So come on, ladies. Take a chance. It’s time to step over the line.
And to the women who are still shaking their bodies at pro events, time is cruel in regard to our looks. I hope you’re all currently working on plan B.
Ancient ruins, haunted memories, and a ruthless criminal combine with a touch of mystic presence in this taut mystery about a crime we all must address.
Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Suspense
September 13, 2021
Maggie, a National Park Ranger of Native American descent, is back at The Castle—a six-hundred-year-old pueblo carved into a limestone cliff in Arizona’s Verde Valley. Maggie, who suffers from depression, has been through several traumas: the gang rape she suffered while in the Coast Guard, the sudden death of her ten-year-old son, and a suicide attempt.
One evening, she chases a young Native American boy through the park and gasps as he climbs the face of The Castle cliff and disappears into the pueblo. When searchers find no child, Maggie’s friends believe she’s suffering from depression-induced hallucinations.
Maggie has several men in her life. The baker, newcomer Jim Casey, who always greets her with a warm smile and pink boxes filled with sweet delicacies. Brett Collins, a scuba diver who is doing scientific studies in Montezuma Well, a dangerous cylindrical depression that houses strange creatures found nowhere else on Earth. Dave, an amiable waiter with whom she’s had a one-night stand, and her new boss Glen.
One of these men is a serial rapist and Maggie is his next target.
In a thrilling and terrifying denouement, Maggie faces her rapist and conquers her worst fears once and for all.
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