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Bring It On! Deadspin Ladies Take On The Idaho Cheerleading Controversy

Once upon a time, a site called The Black Table had a regular feature entitled Waxing Off, in which women gathered in an online roundtable to discuss issues of the day, and also to make fun of Will Leitch's shoes. And so we got to thinking: With so many great female sports bloggers out there, why not import the idea here? It's just crazy enough to work. So behold: The latest edition of Deadspin's Waxing Off. This week, seven writers pen short pieces on the University of Idaho cheerleading uniform controversy. Last week Vandals cheerleaders were ordered to remove their skimpy cheerleading outfits and put on more modest ones, this being 1958 and all. Wait, it's not 1958? Huh. Anyway, some members of the squad were fine with it, some weren't, and their coach resigned. Fun! Here's what our ladies — some who were cheerleaders themselves, and one who grew up in the same town as Kirsten Dunst — have to say about it. By the way, if you'd like to be part of the Waxing Off writing staff, email myself at, or Mr. Daulerio at & Cheeze McSteez: Cheerleaders. First, I don't hate them…I had a friend once who was one! I'm also not a racist because I have a black friend! I should be vice president! MOOSE MEAT ME!! THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID!! I know next to nothing about Idaho. In fact, the only thing that I know about it (besides potatoes I guess) is that it's shaped like an erection. That alone explains why some short skirts and cropped tops might be major cause of concern for the state's image. You're fighting against really unfortunate geography, and you need to take a stand. That said, there is so much else I've learned via this story that is awesome in its commitment to excellence: • The University of Idaho is located in Moscow. Seriously? Moscow, Idaho? Brad Garrett could write that joke, and fans of "Everybody Loves Raymond" would slap their knees and give it a People's Choice Award. • The University of Idaho mascot is the Vandals because in 1920 a sports reporter said the basketball team was "vandalizing opponents." I know when I think domination in sports, U of I is the second athletic program to come to mind. The first is Lindsay Lohan's softball team. • When the uniforms were taken away, the team reportedly wept, and the coach resigned. That actually makes me feel bad because I know how that feels: when I was five and my dad decided my princess outfit was too risque, I cried and my mom left us. There's not a joke in there. I miss my mommy. But in the end, this whole thing is a bunch of hooey. Poor f-ing cheerleaders can't dress like whores when representing their school; can't have old men drool over them from the stands (assuming anyone even goes to Idaho games, and I'm not sure they do); can't say "Go Team, Go!" with their asses hanging out. I'm not saying all cheerleaders are whores, I'm saying most of them are. Oh, but they definitely are athletes. Steezy is a publicist and Texas Longhorn fan living in Washington, D.C. who once made high five "hand babies" with Vince Young. The Head Chick In Charge: "Shake what your mamma gave you." That nugget of valuable advice was surely packed along with the extra long twin sheets when some or all of the Idaho Vandal cheerleaders were first dropped off at the gates of their illustrious, yet not prudish university. And that is a lesson that needs to be learned. No matter how high your SAT score, how advanced your beer pong skills or how close you come to hitting the glass ceiling, you need something to fall back on. Feminine wiles should always be well honed and at your disposal. That is just fundamental advice. Mother just had to be honest when she told her daughter. "Work with what you got." And that's what mother counseled her cheerleading daughter when the haters did the swoop down. Apparently, the sweat glistened abdomens, athletic shoulders and the very, very slight cleavage of a woman have caused consternation since the beginning of time. Who knew?! So when all you are left with are a jersey and a pair Chris Cooley hot pants, work those legs! Work that smile! Maybe this was all just a polite way of saying you had love handles. It could be worse. It's not a tracksuit. No self respecting auxiliary sports entity performs with a uniform that alternates with a tracksuit, coat and/or parka. If it's too cold or wet for you to perform in the uniform that God (or the student union dues) gave you, maybe you should skip the game altogether and study in the library studying or something. Nerd! You'll be a lesbian soon. Daughter, I don't want you to alarm you, but I don't want you to sweat the small stuff. At least you can cheer with some self respect. Maybe even a little bit more than you signed up for. "Money talks." Shit. Look girl, you're old enough to hear the truth. Rationalizing aside, the boosters got the best of you. You'll wear what they tell you to wear. If you don't like it, graduate, move the fuck out of Idaho, make your own money via Avon parties, strip club or corporate America, become drunk with your own sense of self-importance and become a booster too. And when you have your own money, you can assist those co-eds with showing off their abdomens, shoulers and cleavage to the best of their ability. And, incidentally, you can restore that Vandals logo to the back of those football players' asses. Make it so big that those boys wish their uniforms had been designed with the demure and tasteful hand of the Victoria's Secret Pink designers. Teach them the same lesson you were taught. Theoretically, The HCIC blogs at Leave The Man Alone. ————- Andrea Reiher: I'm pulling a Harvey Dent on this one. On the one hand, I think the cheerleaders should get to perform in whatever outfits they choose. It's their squad and if they've all agreed on less-revealing uniforms, then good for them. The reason for the change was that some of the not-size-0 girls were uncomfortable in the uniforms and it's nice that the whole squad came together to make every member comfortable. On the other hand, as Bring It On reminds us: "In cheerleading we throw people into the air. And fat people don't go as high." It's not exactly a "big girl" sport. By nature of the very activities involved in cheerleading, it has smaller girls. In high school, both cheerleading and dance team had like fifteen 5'2, 100 lb girls and then me. (I'm 6'0 and weighed 145 lbs in high school. Quite a bit larger than the other members.) Did I stick out? Yes. Did the uniforms look different on me? Yes. But I knew that going in. I was fully aware of the spandex and short skirts in front of the entire school. The same goes for Idaho. The uniforms were there before the girls auditioned. They knew what they were signing up for. It's not exactly fair to be selected and then cry foul about the uniforms. There is also the functional argument. My freshman year in cheerleading, we had straight, longer skirts (longer for a cheerleading uniform), but on dance team we had very short skirts. The shorter skirts were easier to do jumps, the splits, and tumble in, and I wasn't even one of the girls with better jumps and tumbling skills. I'd imagine on a college squad, with more advanced skills, the shorter skirts work better. That's why gymnasts don't wear anything around their legs. It's just easier. The functional argument has a flip-side too, though. A lot of dance team/cheerleading tops are one shoulder or halter style. Those don't exactly lend themselves to wearing a bra and us *ahem* bustier girls should not be out tumbling and jumping around without a bra. Nobody looks good leading cheers with two black eyes. I was lucky in high school that all my uniforms lent themselves to bra-wearing. But the Idaho uniforms do not and I can see how some members want a different style of top. My compromise would be the change the style of top while keeping the short skirts. That still lets the uniforms be functional for all involved. Ultimately, I think it's up to the squad to decide and if they all agree, then it's their choice. The season ticket holders should not get a vote, as one article has argued. The girls aren't switching to ankle-length skirts from 1952. They're still going to look plenty sexy/salacious/cute in their new uniforms. Andrea Reiher is a contributor at Ladies... and Bugs & Cranks, and recaps America's Got Talent, 90210, The Hills, The Ex List and The Mentalist for Zap 2 It. ————- Cari Gervin: I think there is a time in every girl's life when she dreams of three things. A short, flippy skirt, pom-poms and more pom-poms. For me, that time was 1980. I was three years old, and all I wanted was to be a cheerleader … for Halloween. Since that time, I have hated cheerleading. It's sexist. It bothers me. And it's not just because I couldn't do back-flips (I can't) or didn't look good in short skirts (I looked quite presentable in many a mini and wore them frequently — at least when I was in college).


I'm all about rooting for the team — loudly. I have even been known to shake a pom-pom in the stands. I just don't see what cheering has to do with chicks in short skirts jumping around. If football is so macho, why the need for T&A? That said, I have spent many football-watching afternoons deconstructing the hotness of SEC cheerleaders. (Consensus seems to hold that 'Bama and Ole Miss have the prettiest girls on the sidelines. We can never figure out why Georgia doesn't, when Athens is full of the most gorgeous coeds you've ever seen. They can't all be as unathletic as I am.) Let's face it — cheerleading may be a NCAA-recognized sport, and it may be as dangerous as football, but it's still a beauty pageant. That's the reason youth cheerleading competitions have that creepy JonBenét Ramsey quality. If you aren't hot, you will never make it to the NFL sidelines or have a successful career as a pharmaceutical rep. So of course skimpy outfits and too much makeup are a given! The only thing I can't understand about the Idaho brouhaha is how outfits that ugly were allowed to exist in the first place. Vests, begone! I have finally learned to let my feminist hatred of cheerleading and love of football co-exist, but one thing still bothers me. Cheerleading was actually started by men. For men. At all-male schools. Today there are more females than males enrolled in college. Humans with XX chromosomes make up a large percentage of rabid football fans. So why can't the male cheerleaders wear Chris Cooley-style hot pants? Is that really so much to ask? Cari Gervin is a freelance writer in the South. She blogs about her misadventures in life, love and sports fandom at ————- Ami J. Hooper: Everyone is aware of the University of Idaho cheerleader debacle, so it didn’t come as a shock that this was the weekly Waxing Off topic. Sure, let a bunch of women talk about raunchy cheerleader outfits. I bet Clay Travis doesn’t get this kind of topic. Well, I’m from Texas and having tossed a pom pom or two in my life, I felt I could address this issue with some authority. We Texans certainly have a reputation for cheerleading ... shall we say issues? But then I thought, who better to address this debate than the University of Idaho’s most famous graduate? Well, she attended five different colleges in six years, but she finally got her degree from the University of Idaho. So that counts, right? So, who is this graduate? Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. A woman voted "Miss Wasilla" in a local beauty contest and Miss Congeniality in a statewide beauty pageant. That should make her an expert in skimpy wardrobe choices. Since 2001, the Vandal football team is 17-69 and they lost their season opener 70-0 at Arizona. Like the McCain campaign, the Vandals need a lot of distractions so that no one will notice how bad they actually are. This is exactly why Palin was chosen as the VP nominee. She can rally that Vandal base and get them behind the current choice of a more conservative uniform. Palin is a reformer. She certainly cleaned up Alaska’s “good ‘ol boy” politics and those first uniforms were definitely in need of improvement. They looked like something out of an S&M catalog. Palin hates wasteful spending. The Vandal squad originally spent $4200.00 on the S&M look. This money came from a spirit squad fund, part of which is drawn from student fees. Because of the controversy they had to spend another $2200.00 in private funds to order new uniforms. With the current bail out talks, Palin could address the whole public vs. private funds issue. You know how the GOP loves private funding of anything. I contacted Palin’s campaign, but the handlers are very strict about who gets access. I mentioned that after that disastrous interview with Katie Couric, Palin needs a question she can actually answer. They still weren’t interested. I just don’t understand this at all. Heck, this is something she could campaign on. The woman needs some good PR. I have to apologize to Deadspin readers. I tried my best, but no one in her campaign would talk to me. Maybe it’s that Obama sticker on my car? AJ is a Texas-born writer and designer specializing in print and custom content management system design. She is currently overwhelmed with her latest web venture, Global Foodie, where she serves as creative director. ————- Mallori Merandino: This whole Idaho cheerleading uniform “scandal” (shall we call it “Uniformgate”? It is the American way to add “gate” onto the back of every so-called scandal nowadays) is absolutely ridiculous. As a former high-school cheerleading captain, and resident of the town that brought you Kirsten Dunst, a.k.a. Torrance in Bring it On, I feel that I speak with absolute authority when I call total bullshit. Cheerleading, to me, is two-fold. On the one hand, it is a sport. I know there are many people who think otherwise, but if you are going to call figure-skating and gymnastics sports, you have to go the same way with cheerleading. Legitimate cheerleading squads, such as the Idaho squad, are highly skilled, utilizing gymnastics, strength and dance in their training and routines. To me, that is more of a classically-defined sport than say, bowling, or anything else that does not involve copious hours of training and consistent threat of injury. On the other hand, cheerleading is pure entertainment. The basic point of cheerleading is to get fans excited and to make the game experience more enjoyable as a whole. Attractive uniforms contribute to this as much as signs and poms and confetti. Let’s face it, like cats; we’re all attracted to shiny things that move, especially after a few beers and loss of productive brain function. The Idaho squad was doing nothing wrong by getting shiny, attractive uniforms to wear at games. The skirts were short, but I guarantee you they were wearing lollipops (or spankies, bloomers, whatever you want to call them), and the top showed midriff, but who cares? Even my conservative Catholic high-school let the rules go for us cheerleaders and let us wear shorter skirts and tight shell tops in the name of game-time entertainment. Basically the squad was forced to spend money on new uniforms and the coach has lost her job over girls wearing something that is easily more demure than anything worn at the beach by a woman under 50. Mallori currently works in the nonprofit world of DC, and spends half her day reading about the numerous failings of (all) area sports teams. The other half, you can find her blogging on ————- Denise Karl: Anyone who says that the Idaho Vandals football cheerleaders’ uniforms were “too skimpy” hasn’t seen girls’ high school varsity track uniforms. When your 14 year-old daughter says she needs you to buy her a thong because she’s running track in her underwear, you cringe. Basically the girls’ track uniform is a swimsuit bottom and spandex tank top. But no one says “boo” about that. So, you have to wonder what these potato growers are complaining about. I checked the photos in the link and could only reiterate my daughter’s poignant question. “What are they freakin’ AMISH?” While I know that’s politically incorrect. I feel somewhat safe knowing the Amish don’t use computers so there shouldn’t be any backlash. If the young women themselves felt uncomfortable in the uniforms, then I have to ask why. If a halter top isn’t fitting right, try heading to Victoria Secret for a better bra. If the shorts don’t fit right, then perhaps you need a bigger size or have a skewed view of yourself. If you REALLY don’t look good in those cute black and gold skorts, then maybe you shouldn’t be a cheerleader squad to begin with! Why not try out for a sport like… oh … golf. There is no “skimpy” associated with golf. You should be safe there. Or how about Tennis? Although those little white skirts fly up revealing little white pantied butts. Too much for you? Cheerleaders’ outfits should be dictated by the school. I don’t expect Maria Regina or Holy Cross to send out a squad of bikini clad teens. But a university whose team is called the “Vandals” should have the ability to dress their girls however they wish. Uniforms are for both form and function. Cheerleaders’ uniforms need to be non-restrictive for intricate moves that require athleticism and balance. And hell, sometimes the “function” is to divert attention from a game that could basically…. Suck. Dee Karl has spent more than 20 years in the cable television publishing industry in various capacities and was the Managing Editor for one of cable’s first premium channel magazines. Love of hockey is followed closely by a love of food and she has owned a catering company and a restaurant. Winner of the 2004 NHL's 7th Man Award for the NY Islanders, and charter member of the NYI Blog Box team.

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