Cheer vs cheerleader-less Super Bowl
From high school, college, to the pros, cheerleaders and football seem to go hand in hand.
Six teams in the National Football League, however, do not officially have cheerleaders.
In fact the upcoming Super Bowl will be a played between a team with cheerleaders (the New England Patriots) and a team without (the New York Giants).
Last Super Bowl neither the Green Bay Packers nor the Pittsburgh Steelers had an official cheerleader squad.
The Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns are also cheerleader-less.
So what do these six teams have against pom poms, gyrating and general peppiness?
As most will quickly note, the cheerleader-less teams are all located in colder climates, but the teams The Daily Caller was able to contact explained their lack of cheerleaders with a variety of reasons.
“It was a team decision not to have cheerleaders,” Bears spokesman Jim Christman told The Daily Caller.
Pat Hanlon, spokesman for the Super Bowl-bound Giants, said that New York franchise is focused on football, not cheerleaders.
“Every team has its own philosophy regarding game presentation,” Hanlon told TheDC. “Ours has never included cheerleaders or a dance team. We have always felt the focus should be on the game, on the field.”
Neal Gulkis of the Cleveland Browns directed TheDC to a 2010 Cleveland.com article recalling the last year, 1971, the Browns had cheerleaders.
“The cheerleaders were gone after 1971. Some actually quit before the season ended because it was so cold,” the article explained, pointing out that the cold weather uniforms in 1971 looked a bit goofy.
“We had them one year. They looked crazy. It was ridiculous,” said Pat Modell, wife of former Browns owner Art Modell. “It was so cold in Cleveland that it almost looked like they were wearing woolly pajamas.”
Green Bay Packers spokesman Aaron Popkey told TheDC that the team has not had cheerleaders since 1988. According to the Packers’ media kit, the decision to discontinue the cheer program was due in large part to a television news poll which revealed that there was not an overwhelming amount of support in favor of official cheerleaders.
“In general terms, the poll disclosed there were as many fans who expressed opposition to the return of the cheerleaders as there were those in favor of restoring them,” said Packers executive vice president of administration Bob Harlan. “On that basis, we felt the appropriate decision at this time would be to continue without them.”
Since the early ‘90s, Popkey explained, cheer squads from St. Norbert College and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay have been a “complementary component” to the Lambeau Field experience.
The Lions have not had a cheer team since 1934, according to YahooSports. In 2010 a very unofficial Lions cheer squad, the Detroit Pride, made its debut — but with stringent rules.
“They are not allowed to perform organized cheers. They cannot obstruct the view of fans. They are not allowed to take group photos with fans,” Pride of Detroit, a Lions Blog, reported. “Only two girls may appear in photos, so they plan to walk through Ford Field in rows of two. They cannot wear Lions logos or team colors. Although there is blue in their uniforms, it will not be ‘Honolulu blue.’”
The Steelers ended their cheer program, the Steelerettes, in 1970, according to USA Today. The owning Rooney family broke up the squad after 10 years, feeling that it did not add enough to the game experience, according to WTAE Pittsburgh.
One way or another Sunday will be a battle of the cheer versus cheerleader-less teams. Last year, when neither team had cheerleaders, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello explained the NFL’s policy.
“It’s a team issue,” Aiello said. “If the team has cheerleaders, they are part of the Super Bowl.”
The Patriots did not respond to a request for comment.