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What SEC schools require of dance teams and cheerleaders

What SEC schools require of dance teams and cheerleaders


Earlier this year, we learned LSU has starkly different requirements for its traditionally all-female Golden Girls dance team and Colorguard. Those teams were the only members of Tiger Band to have a requirement they remain within five pounds of their audition weight. How we talk to each other about our bodies and the value we have – that matters. So, I examined hundreds of pages of documents for SEC cheerleaders, dance teams, color guards and bands. A few things became clear. We want to see their stomachs. Programs also frequently require height and weight on audition forms, as well as headshots, except for Arkansas, which requests a “full body picture.” Explicit weight restrictions and directions are fairly common Texas A&M wants its Aggie Dance Team members to stay within five pounds of their audition weights At Ole Miss, cheerleaders must “maintain tryout weight and appearance.” Georgia even provides its spirit teams with a “height/weight chart.” Eating disorders aren’t tolerated. Several schools offer guidance on eating disorders, including meetings with nutritionists. Kentucky featured the most extensive nutrition program. Still, its policy called a 5-foot-5, 120-pound woman “ideal” for cheerleaders to perform stunts safely. No such “ideal” was defined for Kentucky’s male cheerleaders. No matter what, you have to look good. The language to say it varies, but at Kentucky, there’s a graph with multiple points by which its cheerleaders are judged during auditions. Twenty percent of a male or female prospect’s score is based on “Appearance: physical attractiveness, neatness, poise and posture.” That’s the same level of importance they place on partner stunts and more than gymnastics skills. Someone’s always watching. Social media policies typically mandate cheer and dance team coach’s follow every member’s accounts. If they are tagged in photographs where alcohol or signs of alcohol can be seen, they risk expulsion from the team. Break the rules, and you could lose big time. Participation on many of the teams means getting hundreds of dollars in Nike swag, thousands in scholarships and access to elite training facilities. So, what does all of this mean? It’s tough enough to get out there and risk judgment from an audience of thousands, and there’s no doubt performing stunts and getting a crowd pumped up for hours at a time takes athleticism and skill. But we would do better by those athletes to reconsider mandating specific weight limits, and to avoid throwing out words like “ideal.” I’m Chelsea Brasted, with Latitude by NOLA.com

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