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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

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Beware of Texas cheerleaders


Texas is home to world-class barbecue, (now) three U.S. presidential libraries, many stunning state parks and seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong – yet it’s the exploits surrounding cheerleading squads that gain notoriety thanks to cable television.

It is bad enough most people outside the Lone Star State think all Texans ride horses to get around our ranches and oil derricks in our backyards pump out Texas crude all day long. The media – namely television and movies – are to blame for this stereotypical portrayal of all things Texas. Though most of us would not know what to do with a steer were one to park itself on our lawn, the fact that we reside in Texas is enough to get us pigeon-holed as a cowboy or cowgirl.

One wonders what our fellow Americans must think of not only our cheerleaders, but at adults who act nefariously on the behalf of a cheerleader in the family. Refer to the 1993 HBO movie The Positively True Adventures of the Texas Cheerleader Murdering Mom. The film is based on the actual events of one mother attempting to hire a hitman to murder the mother of a girl who is a rival for the first woman’s daughter on the local high school’s cheerleading squad. Ridiculous, right? If only it were not true. In 1991 Wanda Holloway did, in fact, try to hire a killer for just that purpose. It gets worse: ABC felt the need to air a second movie based on this case.

I rehash this old tale of an overzealous mom trying her hardest to get her daughter on the cheerleading squad because Texas cheerleading will be back on the small screen later this year when the Lifetime network airs Fab Five: The Texas Cheerleader Scandal based on the renegade band of cheerleaders at McKinney High School in north Texas in 2006. It seems the cheerleaders were allowed to act as they pleased: the five cheerleaders forced three cheer coaches to quit and had contempt for authority – once when told to cease a cell phone conversation in class, one cheerleader told the teacher to "shut up," and the situation came to a head when the girls posted photos on a Myspace page of the five, dressed in their uniforms, acting lewdly with wares in a condom store. The principal at the time , Linda Theret, resigned because of the scandal since her daughter was the supposed head of the five miscreants, and it was found Theret gave preferential treatment to the girls.

It has been said that time heals all wounds; more than a year has passed since the nationally covered McKinney cheerleaders were in the spotlight. A recent Fox 26 news report showcased current students at the high school wanting to move on. The Lifetime movie will prevent this and will, no doubt, draw skewed parallels to the aforementioned "murdering mom" case and movie.

Even further, those outside Texas will think those within are so deferential to all things cheerleader, that we scant have time to tend to our cattle. All kidding aside, should an eyebrow be raised at the prospect of further scrutiny of non-Texans? Do we not suffer enough wary inspection thanks to the book, film and TV show all called Friday Night Lights?

The coming movie will not have to be over-dramatized much to achieve its entertaining effect, as the girls’ actual misdeeds will be enough to enthrall any who tune in for the show. Still, it hurts a little to think someone in Delaware or Idaho would think it the norm for cheerleading in Texas to be so important, that a spot on a squad is worth killing for or that the members are so heralded they are allowed to act without malice a forethought.

Still, events such as the two highlighted do happen, and though they are not the standard, they are taken as such when construed for entertainment and ratings purposes on some cable network.

Enough is done to highlight the notoriety of these isolated events when they run on national news programs on a daily basis until some other newsworthy ruckus takes its place.

These cable movies glamorize the world of cheerleading and make the impression upon school-aged girls that a position on a cheer squad is not only lauded, but an experience worthy of being immortalized on television. There are enough second-rate fictitious films on celluloid to make girls lust after pom-poms. Dramatized fact-based movies of the week spotlight a fanaticism which is long-gone when these girls grow up and find the real world does not cater to a "cheerocracy."


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