There are regulations for everything these days, so I guess I should have not been surprised. But still, it is sad to discover that the Arizona Interscholastic Association has issued five pages of guidelines on how cheerleaders should conduct themselves at the high school state championship football games. That’s right, when Chaparral plays Marcos de Niza this Friday night at ASU’s Sun Devil Stadium and Hamilton plays Mesa the following day at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, the pom and cheer squads for those four schools will have to abide by the AIA’s guidelines for how they should conduct themselves.
The guidelines are not onerous and their purpose is laudable. The AIA says that their purpose is “to re-emphasize the important role spiritlines play in promoting school spirit, appropriate behavior, and good sportsmanship during the regular season and at State Tournament games.”
Fine, but are five pages of regulations really necessary? Do you really need to tell high school girls and their coaches, “If you arrive in private vehicles, you are responsible for finding a parking space?” Plus, for some reason, the AIA prohibits glitter “on any part of the body (including hair) or uniforms.” Does the AIA have glitter police at the state championship games?
The AIA’s “Spritline Conduct Guide – Football Game Conduct” informs the cheerleaders that “[y]our squad also plays an important role in discouraging crowds from yelling or cheering…while an opponent is shooting free throws.” Have the rules of high school football changed recently? Do teams now shoot free throws when their opponents jump offsides? Believe me, if that happens this Friday and Saturday there will be a lot yelling in the crowd and I doubt that cheerleaders will be able to discourage it.
Finally, the AIA guidelines reflect some naivete. While good sportsmanship must always be encouraged, state championship games are emotional events and the officials sometimes make unpopular, and even incorrect, calls. When that happens, some people will boo the officials. It has been, and always will be, part of the game.
So what do the AIA guidelines instruct cheerleaders to do when a crowd starts booing? This is what it says: “Squads should divert the crowd’s attention by starting a popular cheer should booing or other unsportsmanlike conduct develop.”
I have never seen cheerleaders divert the crowd’s attention from booing “by starting a popular cheer” or by doing anything else and I doubt anyone else has either. Who writes these things?
My guess is that the four pom and cheer squads will do just fine exercising their own judgment at the upcoming 5A state championship football games. As for the person who wrote the AIA’s “Spiritline Conduct Guide,” I am sure that he or she has a future drafting rules and regulations for some government agency. — Dan Barr