Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cheerleaders: A Thorn In My Eye

The real story was not on the court in yesterday's basketball tournament. The real story was in the bleachers. You'd think a large school such as the host would have a better gym. These were old-timey bleachers from the floor up, perhaps 10 rows, on one side of the gym. The other side had bleachers, but they were folded up, leaving room for the teams to sit on folding chairs with cushions.

I prefer to be close to the action, but not TOO close. No need to be fanatical about it. So I chose to sit on the second row of bleachers, down at mid-court, where there was a chasm between my set of bleachers and the half on the other end. They probably had a divider or something to separate the gym in half, thus the chasm. The edge of my bleacher section had metal bars kind of like prison bars, though I've never been to prison--well, technically, I've only been to prison twice, and that was for job interviews, but still, I know what the bars look like from watching Lockup on MSNBC--which was most likely to keep people from falling off and filing a lawsuit against the school, though one time at a stock-car race when I was a youngster, my sister who is now the mayor's wife slipped off a fifth-row bleacher and fell UNDER it onto the dirt, which was hard-packed with clods flung up from the cars flying by, and we never sued the racetrack, even though my mom gasped in panic and then climbed down and fished out my screaming sister. But I digress.

We sat down and had a perfect view. The Pony had brought a new book to read, my mom brought me some caramels, and HH had not yet arrived, having driven separately as he was going in to work after the game. I was as happy as little Gizmo tooting his Christmas horn under the Christmas tree. Little did I know that mean old Gremlin Stripe was about to spit a stream of green oogie stuff onto my contentment. There were still 30 minutes until the game. We were early because I dropped #1 off to catch the team bus at Basementia, and didn't want to sit around waiting.

Our cheerleaders were there, and stood around on our half of the court, jabbering and whatnot. The teams came out and shot baskets for a while. I was a bit miffed that the cheerleaders would not get off the court. They were taking up way past the 3-point line. Have I mentioned that there are 13 of them? The team could not shoot from the left side. The sponsor was there, but was also on the court for the warm-up. I guess the tournament was for the cheerleaders, not the basketball team. The scorekeepers came in and set the scoreboard clock for the warm-up. Both teams just did some general shooting. With 17:00 left on the clock, they both went into the locker room.

Once the teams left the floor, the scorekeeper reset the clock to 10:00 minutes, and let it run. This was disturbing. The coaches had no doubt planned on talking to the team, then coming out for the regular warm-up of lay-ups or 3-on-2, or passing/shooting drills. Both coaches looked startled when they came out and saw only 3:00 left on the clock. The kids got through the lay-up line once, and then the buzzer sounded and they ran to the coaches.

This is when my blood started to boil. The dadgummed cheerleaders came all the way down our sideline and stood in front of us. That is OH SO OLD-SCHOOL! These days, the cheerleaders stand at the baseline, doing their little cheers out of the way of the sideline. Teams have to throw the ball in from the sideline, you know. And while cheerleaders are cheering, they have their backs to the game, and they could get whallopped in the back of the head by a basketball, or knocked down by players scrambling for the ball. But no. Our cheerleaders filled up that sideline, even though the opponent's cheerleaders stayed at the baseline. Oh, and they had a normal number of 8 cheerleaders. Not 13.

My Arch Nemesis was there, sitting right down from my mom, also on the second row. The cheerleaders flowed down that sideline like the Mississippi overflowing its banks during the Great Flood of '93. Mrs. A-N said, "You're not going to stand there, are you?" The girls nodded. Mrs. A-N grabbed up her stuff, huffed and climbed 5 rows higher, taking her husband in his bookie hat with her. I would have loved to do the same, though HH has no bookie hat, but I am not so limber and mobile as Mrs. A-N, and climbed up only one row.

Here's the thing. Could I get one of those little see-through, anorexic type cheerleader to stand in front of me? Laws, NO! M-O-O-N. That spells the biggest and beefiest cheerleaders our school had to offer were stationed right in front of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Not that there's anything wrong with that. They have a right to cheer, too, and I would never want to be responsible for making a young girl anorexic. But if I have a preference for who blocks my view of my son's last game of his 8th grade basketball career, I choose a balsa wood, gossamer, Tinkerbell type of cheerleader, not a Rubenesque, cornfed, doppelganger for an Ohio State offensive lineman. Just sayin'...

My view from row 3 was not much better than my view from row 2. Midway through the 2nd Quarter, a family came in and chose to sit in the seats we had vacated. Once ensconced there, the matriarch declared, "Now I know why these seats were open. You can't see anything through those cheerleaders." Sing it, Sistah! To be fair, the cheerleaders were TOLD to cheer there by their sponsor. Too bad I'm not in Basementia any more, or I would give her a piece of my mind. She would probably just punt it back at me, though.

The thing with this family was that they took up the space of about 4 families. They were plus-size. I'm thinkin' that there wasn't a one of them under 450 pounds, unless maybe it was the toddler with the sister. The patriarch chose to sit on the front row, because he didn't want to climb even one row. He wore his jean jacket the whole time, and his cap, and complained that it was hot, but would not take off the jacket. The matriarch was on the bleacher right in front of me, which means I said goodbye to leg room and spent the next hour getting a bad case of leg-lock from not being able to move.

Other people came in and decided they wanted to scale the heights of Bleacher Picchu, using my area as Base Camp. They could not go to the middle of the section to the stairs, and ask people in the row to let them through. No. They came to the prison bars, asked the Large Lady if she minded if they passed through, put their hand on her shoulder, and hiked up the side of the center chasm to the peak. One group even hoisted their toddler up into the air. HH, sitting behind me, said, "I'll take her." I draw the line at hoisting other people's toddlers. But I did let Mrs. A-N grab onto my own shoulder to hop, skip, and jump her way back to her nosebleed seats. She really must get a bladder transplant, or put off taking her diuretics. It's one thing to race the other teachers to the bathroom between every class period, but quite another to crowd-surf down and rock-climb back up a group of rabid fans.

With this tale growing so lengthy, I won't dwell on the crybabies from the other team shouting, "The refs SUCK!" or hollering at our boys to "MISS!" on every freethrow, or yelling every time down the floor to their point guard, "Go getcha some!" Nor will I discuss the mysterious 'extra' point which appeared in our column on the scoreboard, or the fact the Mrs. A-N made another trip down the mountain to go across the gym and tell the official scorekeeper, who did nothing about it. I'm not sure I would have done the same thing. If I was coaching, yes, because I would be setting a good example for the players that even if it makes you lose, you have to be honest. As a spectator, I didn't feel obligated. The school hired these people to run things, so let them run things. Too bad, so sad that the mouthies for the opponents never even noticed it.

This spectating experience was almost as rewarding as the time I had jury duty, and was chosen as a juror in a case of eminent domain: Billy Bob Farmboy vs. The State of Missouri.


Chickadee said...

OH no. HELLLL no. Between the cheerleaders, the big family and being base camp, I woulda left.

But then again, I don't have childrens either. And I suppose that would teach them to be impatient and not-so-nice.

Are you ready for the snow? I'll bet your little demon spawns are clawing at the windows and door down there in basementia today.

Hillbilly Mom said...

I am so SELFLESS that I put the needs of others ahead of my own, and I endured the indignity for my son. ;)

The kids were loony, anticipating the snow. Mr. S said he took extra painkillers today, but I don't think the two were related.