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JENKINS: It can't be a sport if no chewing out is involved

Photo by Ginny Sampson

Photo by Ginny Sampson

OK, so maybe cheerleading is not a sport, after all.

Understand, this comes from a guy who wrote a column in this very newspaper a few years ago defending competition cheerleading as being absolutely a sport.

At the time, my daughter was a high school senior in her fourth year of competition. I saw how hard she and the other girls worked, how athletic they all were, and how physically demanding the activity was.

I also saw how expensive it was to participate. I still have the second mortgage to prove it.

Anyway, it all convinced me that, yes, cheerleading is just as much a sport as football or basketball, and probably more so than golf and perhaps lacrosse, which basically seems to involve running around and hitting people with sticks. If lacrosse players could do that while also balancing on somebody's hands, I might move them ahead of cheerleaders.

However, something I read recently on Yahoo (where else?) has led me to reconsider my evaluation of cheerleading as a sport.

According to the story, a cheerleading "coach" in Texas has been fired for chewing out her squad after a particularly dismal performance. She even went so far as to call the girls (caution: reader discretion advised) "highfalutin' heifers." Of course, one of the cheerleaders dutifully recorded the tirade on her cellphone, the video went viral, and the coach was canned.

Now, let me speak for a moment to all those who have played actual sports -- especially the guys, because we know it's us the women are comparing themselves to when they say, "Hey, we're athletes, too." I don't know about the rest of you, but of all the things I've ever been called in a locker room, "highfalutin' heifers" would rank as one of the absolute nicest.

It's certainly a lot better than@#$. And then there was my high school basketball coach's pet name for me, "Stupid &$*%#@." Of course, that didn't really make me feel special. It was his pet name for everyone.

Look, I'm not saying it's OK for high school coaches to curse at their players. These days, that sort of behavior is unacceptable, for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that most kids carry hidden recording devices. There are ways to become famous, and then there are ways definitely not to become famous.

I also understand that "heifer" is not a very polite way to refer to a young lady, and probably even a worse way to refer to a young man.

I'm just saying that the occasional butt-chewing is as much a part of sports as stinky locker rooms and uncomfortable undergarments. If you can't take it, then whatever you're involved in isn't really a sport.

Then again, if my coach had ever called me a highfalutin' &$*%#@, well, that might have been going too far.

Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and college professor. Email him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.