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ROBIN ABCARIAN

C'mon, Girls--This Is How It Goes: You Cheer, They Think

March 12, 1995|ROBIN ABCARIAN

How dare those little bimbos.

Just who do they think they are--professional baseball players?

Don't they understand that on the cake of life, they aren't even the icing? They're about as important as the chocolate jimmies, the silver sprinkles, the candy confetti. Who would miss them if they disappeared?

Last month--if you can believe it, and plenty of people are having trouble--the Buffalo Jills voted overwhelmingly in favor of becoming the first professional cheerleading squad to be represented by a union.

The news went over about as well as a Buffalo Bills' Super Bowl performance.

How audacious of these pompon-pushing airheads to dare suggest that they deserve to be part of the great unionized American work force. How they cheapen the proud tradition of collective bargaining. Don't those Snowbelt sweater girls know that unions are made for people who actually work?

What do Buffalonians think?

Let's tune in for a moment to local talk radio. Here's former Bills defensive line coach-turned-sportscaster Chuck (The Coach) Dickerson:

"They don't wear helmets. They don't play games and they don't make any difference. Cheerleaders in professional sports are nothing more than showpieces for someone to look at who gets a twitch from a girlie magazine."

Weird syntax aside, Coach, right on.

And how about the man who owns the Jills, taco restaurateur Andy Gerovac, who contracts the Jills' services to the Bills? How must he feel?

"I feel I've been stabbed in the back by people I thought were my friends. It's not like they work in the coal mines. They've never been instructed to stand under 3,000-degree iron ore in a steel mill."

Tell it like it is, Andy!

OK, he will: "A union--that says you're being mistreated by management. I've been in the unions. There's definitely a place for them, for hard workers who are looking to take care of their families for the future. To me, jumping around on the sidelines isn't really work. It isn't labor at all."

Exactly.

Where do cheerleaders get off comparing themselves to, say, truck drivers--guys and gals who sit on their butts all day hauling cargo from here to there? Or grocery store checkers--guys and gals who stand in one place all day pressing buttons on a cash register and asking for price checks?

All the Jills do is practice for several hours twice a week, perform at home games, make free personal appearances for charity and hold down real jobs to pay the bills. If they don't like the arrangement, hey, let 'em join the PTA! As cheerleaders are well aware (because they are reminded so often by management), there are scores of replacement cheerleaders waiting in the Buffalo wings to take their places.

The Jills, incredibly, seem not to have a shred of shame over the transgression they have committed against apple pie, football and the American way of life.

"We put a lot of time and effort into this," a Jill named Erin McCormack was quoted as saying. "What we're trying to do is gain respect as a squad and to cheerleading as a whole."

Weird syntax aside, where does she get off?

Why would a cheerleader deserve respect? Why would a grown woman who volunteers her time to cheer a professional football team whose players and owners make millions of dollars a year think she is entitled to any of the decency and dignity accorded your average letter carrier?

It boggles the mind.

And do you know what these jumping Judases have asked for?

They want more say over their routines, music and uniforms without having to fear being "benched" if they speak their minds. They want control over where they practice and input on their personal appearances.

They want to be fairly compensated. They don't think it's fair that they have to pay their own way to the Super Bowl even if the Bills lose every single time they play in one.

"This is a business, and everybody's profiting on it except the cheerleaders," a Jill named Nancy Bates told a reporter.

Money, money, money. It's always about money with people these days.

The Jills already get free parking passes to the stadium. Plus a free field pass. Not to mention a free ticket for a boyfriend or husband. When they make paid personal appearances (besides the free ones they do for charity), well, sheesh, businesses shell out $250 for two girls for two hours and the Jills' owner keeps only $150 of that. The girls get $50 each, for heaven's sakes.

No one is asking them to think big thoughts. They are told what to wear, how to look, how much to weigh and how to behave. They are relieved of the burden of figuring these things out for themselves.

And then they go and vote in the union.

Who puts these radical ideas in their heads?

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