Open Mouth, Insert Football: Jason Bourne vs. the cheerleaders

Ben Morrow
Sports columnist

Last year, Greg Waddell and Drew Hursey, former Sports Editor and Assistant Editor, respectively, faced off in a friendly open debate over a touchy issue: “Is cheerleading a sport?” Our new Assistant Sports Editor Dylan Stinson couldn’t help but add his two cents worth in last week’s edition by opining that, yes, it is indeed.
At the risk of life and limb, I want to extend this already endless argument by respectfully disagreeing with my friend. How do I do this tactfully? Here goes.
Dylan, you’re crazy.
When did the words “sport,” “game” and “activity” become so synonymous that ESPN doesn’t even know the difference anymore?
Cheering is not a sport. It is not a game. It is an activity performed by talented and athletic people, but it exists to supplement an ongoing sporting event. And that’s it.
(I think I hear a mob gathering outside my door.)
I know, I know. What about competitive cheering? But riddle me this: If debate teams turned back flips during their closing arguments, should competitive debate then make its way to the sports channels? If chess teams added a competitive dance routine between moves, would the game suddenly become a sport?
Cheerleaders have a hard fact to face. The reason some consider cheering to be a sport over the activities mentioned above also serve as the same reason it cannot be a sport.
Cheerleading is primarily associated with sporting events – as the sideshow.
(The mob is growing. I can tell.)
Dylan said the three main qualities of sports are competitiveness, skill or training and excitement. For now, we’ll ignore the obvious fourth factor of raw athleticism. This way, our redneck buddies won’t be left on the outside with their “sports” like hunting, NASCAR, fishing, beer pong and whatever else they do for kicks.
(Now I hear a few angry guys out there joining the fray. They have Southern accents.)
Based on Dylan’s tri-layered premise of what defines a sport, I want to argue why Jason Bourne should have been allowed to compete as an NCAA-sanctioned assassin.
You read that correctly. If turning the occasional cartwheel while otherwise standing in the audience’s view of the main event constitutes a sport, then I say let’s not be stingy.
(They’re really getting loud out there.)
Let’s open the door to all who fit Dylan’s definition of sport. Why discriminate against the opportunity for SpecOps to entertain the masses at halftime?
So here are the parameters he suggested. Let’s allow Mr. Bourne go through tryouts and see if he deserves a scholarship.
Ready? OK!
First, competitiveness. Hello! You die if you lose. No sport would have stakes this high since the ancient Mayan version of basketball, where the losing team was sacrificed en masse in front of its audience. No cheerleaders blocking the view, either.
(Calm down out there! Apparently, safe zones don’t exist to vigilantes toting pom-poms and pitchforks.)
Second, skill or training. I certainly hope field agents with a piece know how to fire the stinkin’ thing. Jason Bourne doesn’t even need a gun. Didn’t you see him dispatch a skilled attacker with only a ballpoint pen? Talent and preparation are assumed here.
Third, excitement. See competitiveness. If fights to the death don’t get your heart racing a little faster, you’re dead already. It certainly beats craning your neck around an annoying pyramid to see what’s happening down on the court.
(OK, I’m getting afraid in here. Could someone please send a patrolman by?)
So far, tryouts are looking pretty good for Jason. He’s three for three. Now let’s apply the element of athleticism that truly separates sport from game.
“I can run flat out for half a mile before my hands start shaking,” said the deadly amnesiac. That’s good enough for me. Walking from Sparks Hall to Stewart Stadium is enough to knock me out for the day.
So there you go. Competitiveness. Skill. Excitement. Athleticism. If a cheerleader can get free tuition, why not Jason Bourne?
Or maybe, just maybe, neither one really fits under the definition of sports athlete.
(By the way, if I don’t show up for my classes today, please look for a bound and beaten man huddled in a corner somewhere in Wilson Hall.)
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