The Telegraph has an interview (lucky journalist!) with the cheerleading team who have accompanied the New Orleans NFL team to play over here. The unsurprising aspect of this interview is that the cheerleaders view their activity (a mixture of dance and gymnastics) as a form of calling. They are also highly motivated individuals whose success is replicated in their choice of careers:
All dancers from as young as five, the girls see it as a higher calling, a literal spreading of happiness like ENSA during the war. Only these girls are busy pursuing different careers in the meantime. Dianne is a medical student, Amanda S is studying marketing and accounting, Bethany T is a biology student, while Amanda T, the rookie of the bunch who has not yet been with the Saintsations a year, is a Film and TV graduate.
Far from being human Barbies, or, as one critic described them, "pole-dancers without the tips", these girls are all high-achievers, something they are known for in the US but which has been lost in typecasting overseas.
"Most cheerleaders work hard at school and because lots of us aspire to have a career in human relations, we see it as an activity which will help our future careers," says Dianne, who has the PR patter down to a fine art. "The rewards are not just on the field - they're about being role models for young girls in the community. We aspire to making a positive impact." "We're great role models because we're such well-rounded individuals," adds wide-eyed Amanda T, "and we take care of our bodies so in terms of feminism we're cheerleaders for that as well."
This is characterised as an American enterprise though the underlying connection is clear: competition, exercise and schooling. Does this not echo, in a renewed form, the 'muscular christianity' of Charles Kingsley? From my own experience, these values are held by former cheerleaders as well.
We should encourage this in our state schools just to get the usual left lackwits frothing at the mouth. After all, would this not be the wrong form of exercise?