Packers, Steelers don't need cheerleaders to get fans pumped up for Super Bowl
Let's hear it for a Super Bowl without shaking boobies and butts!
Call me a prude if you must, but I love that today's game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers will mark the first Super Bowl in history where both teams do not have cheerleading/dancing squads. How deliciously ironic that the big game is being held in the Big D without any big-busted women wiggling their tushies in front of the TV cameras.
In the flashy, flaunting home stadium of the Dallas Cowboys — the franchise with the most famous cheerleaders on the planet — there will be no scantily clad dancers waving their shakers and moneymakers on Sunday night. This more than anything else symbolizes what the Super Bowl is all about. It's about history and heritage and not glitz and glamour. This is a Super Bowl where T&A stands for tradition and ancestry.
Because neither Super Bowl team has dancing girls, the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders even offered to fill the void and perform their sexy sideline shimmy today, but the Steelers and Packers said thanks but no thanks. They don't need it or want it. These blue-collar franchises are about football; not eye candy.
Don't get me wrong, I am not anti-eye candy. I love watching the Magic Dancers shake, shake, shake their booties when I attend games at the Amway Center. Not only that but the Magic Dancers do a lot of good things. They visit hospitals. They go overseas to visit the troops. They are part their team's persona smart, sexy and community-oriented.
But that's the Magic. The Magic were one of the pioneers in the new age of "event presentation" in professional sports. They helped write the book on integrating loud music, provocative dancing girls, flamboyant P.A. announcers and goofy, floppy-footed mascots into the game experience.
"Game presentation is a huge part of attending a sporting event," says Jeanine Klem-Thomas, manager of the Magic dance team and a former dancer herself. "In the traditional family each person is watching something different. One person may be focused just on the game, another may be watching the dance team, another may be checking out what's happening on the video board. You want to have something for everybody."
These days you're not just going to an NFL or NBA game, you're attending a sporting event, a hip-hop concert, a dance club and a clown cavalcade all rolled into one. That's fine for non-traditional organizations like the Magic, but it's refreshing when you have historic franchises like the Steelers and Packers who still believe it's about the game and not the gimmicks.
The Steelers and Packers have tried having cheerleaders in the past, but decided they didn't need all of the bodily gyrations and artificial stimulation to get their fans excited. Just give Packer backers a Cheesehead Hat and give Steeler fans a Terrible Towel and they're happy. How ironic that two of the loudest, largest fan bases in all of sports do not need cheerleaders to inspire them to stand up and holler.
The Packers do invite nearby college cheerleaders — traditional cheerleaders — to their home games to shout through their megaphones, do their tumbling acts and build their pyramids. The girls wear skirts and sweaters; not hot pants and halter tops.
"Most other teams are more dancers, not cheerleaders," Ann Rodrian, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay cheerleading coach whose squad has worked Packers' home games for 20 years, told The New York Times. "They don't usually show us (on TV) because my girls have all their clothes on."
One of the most enjoyable interviews I ever did was with Steelers' owner Dan Rooney several years ago when I was covering the Jacksonville Jaguars for the Florida Times-Union. The Jaguars, of course, are part of the NFL's new breed with dancing girls, loud music and an obnoxious mascot — Jaxson DeVille — at their games.
Once, during a timeout of the Monday Night Football game between the Steelers and Jags, Jaxson DeVille brought a life-sized stuffed doll of Pittsburgh quarterback Kordell Stewart on the field and began punching and stomping it just a couple of feet away from the Steelers' offensive huddle. During another timeout, he went over to the Steelers' bench holding a Terrible Towel that he used to wipe his armpits — and other parts of his anatomy.
Rooney was so appalled, he got the NFL to change the rules. From that point forward, obnoxious mascots were prohibited from going on the field during games and banned from taunting opposing players and coaches.
"Obviously, every team has its own philosophy, but in Pittsburgh the football is what counts football is what's king," Rooney said then. "People get on me sometimes because we don't have dancing girls or mascots at our games. My response is we don't need those types of things. Good, entertaining football is what people come to see."
Gimme an A-M-E-N!
Two bits, four bits, six bits extoll!
Let's hear it for this old-school Super Bowl!