Below are portions of an Oregon State University press release by Marianne Vydra, the OSU Associate Athletics Director, explaining their reasons for the decision. There are also excerpts from other publications citing additional reasons for the announcement. Take a look at what's below and read my comments; then you decide if they are being fair in eliminating an award-winning tradition.
- In an effort to protect the health of students involved the increasingly high-risk sport of cheerleading, Oregon State University is changing its program to eliminate use of dangerous "stunts" and refocus the program's attention on cheering. - Okay, cheerleading does have some injury risks, but so does football, basketball and any other physical activity. Also, OSU has never suffered a catastrophic injury in the decades they've had a program.
- OSU is not eliminating the program, athletic department officials emphasized. The university is, however, moving away from dangerous routines that have helped make cheerleading the second-most "catastrophic injury"-prone collegiate athletics activity behind only football, according to the NCAA. - Again, OSU has never had a catastrophic injury but in part of their statement they suggest that the squad has taxed the athletic department medical staff and taken trainers away from varsity athletes.
- "We've made the decision to move away from risky acrobatics and refocus the program squarely on cheering," said OSU Associate Athletics Director Marianne Vydra. "We simply cannot appropriately supervise and facilitate these activities. The decision is really in the best interest of the student cheerleaders, who still have options to pursue competitive cheerleading and stunts as a student group. Is this really in the best interest of the cheerleaders? They are a highly competitive team and their tradition goes back for decades. Also, the school is rumored to have said the squad will be replaced with a larger, more diverse group of spirit leaders. And the new group will most likely wear khaki pants and polo shirts. I understand involving more of the student body in a spirit team, that's fine, but why do away with the cheerleaders? Can't both groups exist? When another sport is considered dangerous, do they do away with it and start a new sport that is all inclusive with no risks?
- Reportedly, OSU is concerned over issues and concerns about "body image problems" and it's been mentioned that they said a 180-pound girl has a right to be on the cheer squad and that weight requirements are discriminatory. Let's face it, not everyone can be a cheerleader, but is that because of weight or skill, ability and physical demands? And more importantly, should we rid the world of anything that everyone can't do?