There was “breaking news” yesterday regarding the Washington Football Team’s cheerleading squad. No, the “breaking news” had nothing to do with the now 8-month long investigation into sexual harassment and “toxic workplace” allegations brought against the team – and obliquely against the owner. And no, there was not any announcement that the NFL had agreed with various activist groups that the results of that investigation – – whenever and if ever it is completed – – would be made public with only minor redactions. Instead of any important “breaking news”, here is what went down regarding that issue yesterday:
- The WTFs will not have a cheerleading squad this year – – and presumably into the future – – but will replace that unit with a co-ed dance team.
I know; it is enough to take your breath away…
That announcement is about as important as nose hairs on a statue; cheerleaders for NFL teams are worthless and co-ed dance teams for NFL teams are no better. At its absolute best, consider this announcement by the team – and obliquely by the NFL – as a means to divert attention to the fact that after 8 months of “investigating”, there are no findings regarding sexual harassment and a “toxic work environment” for female cheerleaders there.
In an earlier part of my professional life, I had the responsibility of conducting inquiries into formally filed workplace grievances. It was not nearly the most fun part of my career, but I survived it. Never once did I have a “case” that required 8 months of “digging” to come up with whatever facts could be gleaned along with the perceptions/opinions of parties to the grievance and close peripheral parties. I have no idea what 8 months of billable hours by a law firm looking into this matter might mean in terms of a cash outlay by the team and/or the league; but sight unseen, I would have taken the job fixed price for half of that total.
Regarding the current “announcement” that the NFL media managed to turn into “Breaking News”, here are a few statements that give you an idea of the pablum involved:
“With [a co-ed dance team] comes inclusivity, diversity and in my mind, as an entertainer, athleticism. My desire is to create a team that is all of that — inclusive, diverse, coed, athletic — to set the gold standard in the NFL. We’re looking for that super athlete that can dance, perform tricks and stunts and manipulate whatever props that will create a really great show.” [Petra Pope – newly hired by the WTFs as a senior advisor to create game-day entertainment for a more modern franchise.]
“Change can be extremely difficult. I appreciate the passion that the ladies have and can relate to that passion because I’ve been a mentor for thousands of dancers over my career. As we progress to a reimagined era, the choreography will be much more athletic. We welcome the dancers of the past to audition, and if they have that skill set, they’re welcome to join us. [Petra Pope – addressing the fact that former cheerleaders had been “released” and might not be included in the new squad.]
The new team president for the WTFs, Jason Wright, said that the team was trying to emulate the NBA experience and to provide a game-day experience that was similar to the NBA. Here is his take on this announcement:
“As we set out to modernize the Washington Football gameday, it’s important that we develop a top-notch entertainment program that keeps our fanbase excited and connected to the game and the team.”
- Memo to Jason Wright: If 20% of your gameday fans would even notice the absence or presence of cheerleaders or dance squads, I would be shocked. Your gameday experience will be enhanced much more by better food, cheaper parking and a better product on the field. No charge for that advice…
Meanwhile, as MLB’s Spring Training has moved ahead from workouts to exhibition games that too many folks will take as portents of things to come in September/October 2021, please think back just a few days to appreciate the content of this item in Dwight Perry’s column, Sideline Chatter in the Seattle Times:
“Tim Hunter of Everett’s WRKO Radio, on the first day of spring training: ‘The day that pitchers and catchers start complaining about having to come back sooner than the rest of the team.’”
And as we draw close to the event that most folks seem not to want to happen – – the NBA All-Star Game – – consider these pragmatic words from Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:
“New rule: Any NBA player who complains that a colleague was snubbed in the All-Star selection process must name the player he’d remove from the team.”
Why didn’t I think of that? My credentials as a curmudgeon have taken a significant hit there…
Finally, apropos of nothing other than my liking for H.L. Mencken, here is one of his observations from about 80 years ago that still has resonance:
“The typical American of today has lost all the love of liberty that his forefathers had, and all their disgust of emotion, and pride in self-reliance. He is led no longer by Davy Crocketts; he is led by cheer leaders, press agents, word-mongers, uplifters.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………