Friday, April 06, 2007


Yeah, that got your attention. I really am going to talk about cheerleaders, though.

An essential deception, or disguise, of cheerleading came to my mind today. It's just a tricky way of yelling at people. Getting the cute girls in short skirts to lead the school in screaming "Defense!" or "Fight, team, fight" is exactly the same thing as the coach yelling "Get yer ass back in there, you wuss." It just seems very different because of the disguise.

Story: Ben was a decent, though not overwhelming, baseball player. Goffstown had Babe Ruth teams that figured prominently in state and even New England tournaments, so that was a pretty good level of play. He elected not to play in his last year of eligibility, when things would be expected to all come together, opting instead to try out for the school team even though he was a freshman. At the same time, the school play was happening. At baseball tryouts he was yelled at. At the school play (for which his parents training had better suited him) he was valued. I summarize the conflict in the single incident of Jelena, the attractive and well-constructed exchange student from Belgrade, hugging Ben and sighing how much she would miss him next year. Put yourself in a fifteen-year-old boy's mind on that one: Let's see, I can have middle-aged men yell at me every afternoon, or I can have exotic females hug me... hmm, tough choice.

Yet you get yelled at by people in theater as well, and humiliated, often by people who are experts in disdainful tones of voice. And, there are coaches and crowds that are enormously encouraging as well. Yelling at you, encouraging you, it's all the same thing. The framing is different, that's all.

In my job we have to "cheerlead" people often - patients, staff, families, and people at other agencies. Sometimes I am brilliantly good at it. Sometimes I am terrible and make people more discouraged. Being a cheerleader for a team that's already lost a lot of games, and hasn't even scored many points, is enormously wearing. I'd rather just tell people to get a life.

But if I remember that "encouragement" is just code for "yelling at people as long as you want, so long as you trick them," then maybe this won't be so bad...

So, y'all get yer ass back in the game out there. That was fun.


Dubbahdee said...

Does this mean that you are going to start wearing short tight skirts to work, the better to frame your cheerleading for your charges?
Dude, clozipine or no clozipine, that's gonna unglue some people.

copithorne said...

I've never mentioned this, but I grew up in Gilford, New Hampshire. We would have played Goffstown in Babe Ruth Baseball.

All your small town New Hampshire, Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, Boston Celtics stuff is enjoyed by me.

Anonymous said...

Thanks I needed that.