Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Cheerleaders deserve respect

It has been more than a year since the Crimson Tide’s glorious national championship victory in Pasadena and I have yet to see the statue of Nick Saban delivered to its rightful place in front of Bryant-Denny. This delay comes in stark contrast to the celebration exhibited by both the University and the rabid fan base after the win last January.

Fortunately, the University guarantees that it will be on campus as soon as Mr. and Mrs. Saban agree on the right one. Unfortunately, the University does not seem to care quite as much for the other student interests on campus.

Just one year after the football team’s national championship, the Alabama Cheer squad won their first national title since 1984; however, unlike the well-deserved praise that was heaped on the football team, the squad was informed that the University would not be providing them with championship rings.

If this is indicative of a larger trend, then it would seem that cheerleading, like many of the other less-lucrative competitive activities on campus, is facing a distinct lack of care from the University, whose flawed system of value apparently only recognizes NCAA sanctioned “sports” and fails to even acknowledge other more pertinent factors.

The lack of support does not stop at rings. Their competition efforts have been opposed long before this year’s championship. The squad had to fight more than just other schools for the national title. They had to fight the University, which told them last year that they were not allowed to compete at the national tournament. They had the drive to fight it by mobilizing alumni. This is the very epitome of dedication.

The University also threatened to forbid them from practicing stunts that are required for tournaments, because it “takes time away from practicing” for game performances. The cheer squad made the decision to work through Christmas break to prepare for the championship, because they did not want to distract themselves from practicing for game performances during the year. This is the definition of hard work.

But then again, why should anyone care about hard work or dedication? They are only “the two pieces (Nick Saban) focuses on to create a national championship team.”

Unfortunately, after fighting through both the University and other teams, they did not even receive a news release congratulating them. The only statement that even came close to a pat on the back was from the athletics department that immediately was followed by an explanation as to why they were not allowed to receive championship rings.

To even further slam the team in the mud, the team, who elected to buy its own rings, was also initially informed that they were not allowed to use the Alabama logo, because it was copyrighted.

Topping it all off, when the Tuscaloosa News tried to contact the University just to talk to the team members, they received “little help.”

The University’s relative indifference to the squad’s victory and refusal to give them the same rewards that other teams receive after a national championship amount to nothing short of a disgrace. Its strict adherence to what the NCAA defines as a “sport” leaves out programs that are rich in tradition and full of skill. It is even more disappointing that they still are resisting awarding the rings.

If the cheerleading squad is on the field for every football game, then they are just as much a part of the Crimson Tide tradition as people who play in an NCAA sanctioned “sport.” It isn’t that the football team does not deserve all the praise that they received after winning in Pasadena. It isn’t that the cheerleading squad deserves a shrine in front of Bryant-Denny or even a statue. However, they do deserve the respect and championship rings that the football team and other teams receive after winning a national championship.

John Brinkerhoff is a freshman majoring in political science and communication studies. His column runs biweekly on Mondays.

More to Discover