Monday 5 December 2016

All eyes on ball at Super Bowl as pom poms sidelined

Nick Allen

Published 05/02/2011 | 05:00

Washington Redskins cheerleaders perform during an NFL football game. Photo: Reuters
Washington Redskins cheerleaders perform during an NFL football game. Photo: Reuters

More than 100 million people are expected to watch the final showdown of the American Football season tomorrow, but there will be no pom poms, no chants and no fancy flips to keep fans entertained.

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This year's game is between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers, among the small number of teams that do not have professional cheerleading squads.

Sports fans across America have reacted with dismay to the absence of sideline entertainment. The event is taking place in Dallas, where members of the renowned Dallas Cowboys cheerleading squad have offered to step into the breach.

But they have been banned from the stadium because they are not affiliated with either of the teams taking part, and they will have to perform outside.

Both Pittsburgh and Green Bay used to have cheerleading squads, but they have mostly "blue collar" fan bases that have rejected the razzmatazz that goes along with cheerleading.

Pittsburgh's 'Steelerettes' were formed in 1961 and originally appeared in hard hats, jumpers and below-the-knee skirts.

In 1969 the lead cheerleader is said to have approached Art Rooney, the team's owner, and asked if they could wear something more modern, and perhaps a bit more daring.

In response Mr Rooney, who was known as 'The Chief', sacked all the cheerleaders. The Rooney family, who are described as "old school", still own the team and have never resurrected the Steelerettes.

Dianne Feazell Rossini, who was a Steelerette in the 1960s, said Mr Rooney believed "women did not belong on a football field, period".

But she added: "The older I get, the more I agree with The Chief. For a long time, I wished the Steelerettes had continued on to the glory days of the '70s.

"But my thoughts now are that most people pay to see a football game, not ogle a bunch of girls."

The Steelers players are ultra-focused and said they were glad there would be no "eye candy" on show."

Distraction

Pittsburgh wide receiver Antwaan Randle El (31), said: "They are a distraction. You want to focus on the game. If you happen to look, it's 'Oh, my Lord!' Especially in Dallas -- they not only have cheerleaders, they have go-go dancers hanging from poles."

Green Bay's cheerleading squad appeared in one-piece swimsuits and high-heeled boots in the 1960s and 1970s.

But they were disbanded in 1988 and subsequent polling by the team showed fans were not missing them.

When Green Bay reached two Super Bowls in the 1990s they brought stand-in college cheerleaders, but they had to pay their own expenses to get there. They have not been invited this time. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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