Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making The Team... making me glad I never aspired to be a cheerleader

For the past few days, I've been watching episodes of CMT's hit reality show, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making The Team.  This show highlights young women who hope to become members of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (DCC), an "iconic" cheerleading squad for the NFL.  Not being a big fan of football, I never had a lot of exposure to the DCC until this show first started airing on CMT about nine years ago.  However, I am old enough to remember the two 70s era made for television movies made about the DCC and their memorable performance on The Love Boat.

DCC on The Love Boat...

Making The Team must be a financial boon for the DCC and CMT.  Why else would there have been so many seasons?  My husband is an unusually evolved male and he said he didn't understand why people like this show so much.  He once commented "It's just the same stories over and over again every year."

"You don't think men enjoy watching this show simply for the T&A and seeing beautiful women in their physical prime dancing in spandex bras and shorts?" I asked.

"Point taken." Bill said.  I'm lucky that he's more attracted to my mind than my looks.

Yesterday, after watching several episodes of Making The Team, I posted on Facebook that I'm really glad I never aspired to be a cheerleader.  I mean, don't get me wrong.  They are beautiful women who dance and some of them are accomplished and talented in other ways.  I will admit that they are mostly fun to watch.  I'd rather watch them perform than a football game.  The show is fun to watch, too.

I don't watch Making The Team because I'm necessarily interested in learning about the team.  I watch it because it amazes me what so many young, talented, beautiful, accomplished and often intelligent women will do to wear a scanty uniform in front of millions of people.  It must really be a rush to keep so many women coming back, sometimes year after year, in an attempt to join the DCC squad.  For three months, they rehearse non-stop.  They have to make every rehearsal, even if they are sick, injured, or have some other life event to attend to.  They are not paid for their rehearsals and they receive minimal payments for cheering in games.  They do get paid for special performances, though again, I doubt it comes anywhere close to what a football player makes, even in minor leagues.

All the while, these women have to look the part at all times.  They have to call Kelli Finglass and Judy Trammell "Ma'am" and are expected to turn the other cheek to any and all criticism with no "attitude".  In other words, not only must these women be beautiful, incredible dancers willing to perform at games and on television for very little money, they must also smile when Kelli and Judy tell them they're too fat or their kicks are too low.  They have to wear makeup, dress to the nines, and put up with scolding, favoritism, correction, and criticism.

They even have to do things like free fall dropping from towers on television.  Yesterday, I watched an episode where the ladies were put in harnesses and dropped sixteen stories.  More than one of them were petrified to the point of hysterics.  I don't know about the average person, but I sure wouldn't want to be shown on TV screaming like a banshee before being dropped off a platform.

When I watch this show, I am sometimes reminded a lot of the worst stereotypes about sororities.  Now, before anyone gets pissed at me for picking on sororities, let me emphasize that I know they aren't all bad.  I have a lot of good friends who were in sororities when we were in college and most of them have good things to say about the experience.  On the other hand, I can't deny that I've heard about how brutal sorority life can be.  It was that reputation, along with the cost, that made me not want to join.  It's the same thing that makes me glad I never wanted to be a DCC... not that I could have been one, even on my best day.

I have seen Kelli and Judy be nice to some of the women they mentor.  If there's a training camp candidate that they especially enjoy but have to cut, sometimes they even get emotional.  They are a lot nicer to their aspiring candidates than Tyra Banks is to aspiring top models.  In fact, I even think of Kelli and Judy as being "fairy godmother" like sometimes, especially if they happen to really like one of the candidates trying to make the squad.  It's good when the audience sees the nicer side of DCC's leaders.

I notice that when Kelli addresses a candidate who is about to be cut, she asks how they feel.  Most of them sound nervous when they say "okay".  And then, more times than not, Kelli drops the ax and cuts them.  It's funny, too, when Kelli addresses someone for being "fake".  Sometimes, she really has a point.  A few years ago, Lacey and Kenley Minchew, two beauty queens from Louisiana were invited to training camp.  Kelli dressed Lacey down for being "plastic and mannequin like".  Lacey gave her a dumbfounded look of shock.  Not long afterwards, she and her sister dropped out of training camp.  I recently found Lacey Minchew's wedding Web site.  She's married to a professional football player... and yes, comes across as a bit of a society girl.  But in Lacey's defense, I have seen a number of DCC women come across similarly.  Frankly, I think if they hadn't been beauty queens with previous duties, Lacey and Kenley would have fit right in.    

If a candidate talks back to Kelli and Judy or steals their thunder by quitting before they get cut, they get really pissy.  On a recent episode, a candidate was about to be cut and quit and Kelli complained that the woman had "stolen" some other woman's dream by taking her spot in training camp.  The way they talk, you'd think the DCC is full of incredibly blessed women akin to Amazon princesses.  They are anointed until Kelli or Judy banishes them from the estrogen castle.  But think about it.  They basically wear next to nothing and shake their asses in front of a bunch of drunken football fans.  Kelli tells the candidates that their audition is tougher than most... but somehow, I kind of doubt that, unless you consider that many of them are shown failing on television before they are ever out there on a football field.  And so many of them, after being cut, are in tears and talking about how it wasn't "God's plan" for them to be a DCC.

In a way, I don't think Making The Team really does the DCC any favors.  Before I watched this show, the DCC had kind of a mystique about them.  Now, some of these women almost remind me of glorified Hooters girls.  Of course, a number of former DCCs have gone on to fame and fortune... or at least landing a rich husband.  I sit here and wonder if they've ever had an "out" lesbian cheerleader.  Or if there will ever be a transgendered cheerleader.  Somehow, I doubt it.  But that would make interesting TV!  At least Tyra Banks has gone there.  In fact, sometimes MTT reminds me of ANTM, especially when MTT uses the same music as ANTM does.  Sometimes, I think certain women are kept around longer not because they have a hope of being on the squad, but because they make for good TV.  Three time former DCC candidate Meagan Flaherty is a prime example of that.  She made her last appearance in season 5, when she basically told off Kelli and Judy when they cut her for the final time.

Well... at least I know my limits.  I never cared about trying to join the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.  In fact, while I liked dancing when I was a small child, I never took classes or tried to be a cheerleader, even though all three of my sisters did.  So I never embarrassed myself at a DCC audition in the clueless way that so many would be cheerleaders do at DCC auditions every year.  I wonder what compels the aged, heavyset, uninformed and awkward to subject themselves to a DCC audition, knowing that they will be featured and made fun of on national television.  I've heard the powers that be make comments about candidates being "stupid", "dingbats", "fat", "awkward", "noodle-like", "living in the past", and "needing to find their next 'passion'".  Harsh words indeed.

"Stupid can be 'dangerous' in our business..."

Ah well...  I have to admit, it's good reality TV.  I might have to go do some reading to recover some brain cells now.


  1. I think I'veonly admitted to this once because my parents would be upset even now if they found out, but I was a cheerleader for four games. My parents were out of the country and needed to temporarily sign over the right to give consent for us to my cousin, who was staying with us. I was a sophomore that year. my cousin signed and i was the "flyer" for four football games. Somebody's mom had to totally remake the uniforms to fit me. It was great fun getting thrown up in the air, and I could be thrown WAY up at my size, though I probably looked rather out of place. It was crazy dangerous (there wards consisting almost entirely of quadri- and paraplegic former gymnasts and cheerleaders, particularly at places like Shriners hospitals. and I'd never let my kid do anything like that. My parents were absolutely right in their refusal, but to an almost-fourteen-year-old it just seemed like fun.

    I agree with Bill about the show.

    1. Well, the DCC doesn't involve any flying. It's more like a drill team than classic cheerleading.


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