Girls or Sport? It’s got to be Sport

After posting on the Steubenville Rape Case, I pointed out the link between the fanatical association of high school football with money and the privileged treatment of people whose talent at sports gives them a free ride. In this case? Support from various groups after raping someone.

What’s more bizarre is this story.

She was a 16 year old cheerleader from Silsbee High School (Texas) was alleged to have been raped at a house party. (Clearly because she was batting above her standards, got drunk and wanted a piece of whatever it is an Alpha Male is and was a slut… Right MRA?). Three students were arrested. One of whom is Rakheem Bolton. He pled guilty to a lesser charge of Misdemeanour Assault allowing for 2 years of probation, community service, a fine and anger management classes. The charge of rape was dropped allowing him to return to his place on the basketball team. Because Assault is an acceptable crime…

In any case four months later in January 2009. This young girl (called HS) travelled to an away game where she was involved in leading the cheers. Except when it came to Rakheem’s turn to take a free throw. She decided to stand silently and have her arms folded.

“I didn’t want to have to say his name and I didn’t want to cheer for him. I just didn’t want to encourage anything he was doing”

If we are to go by the admission of the defendant, he is guilty of sexual assault.

HS was dropped from the cheerleading squad for refusing to chant the name of a basketball player who had sexually assaulted her.

She then challenged the decision to be dropped legally. And she lost. She has to pay $45,000 because as a cheerleader she spoke for the school rather than herself and so had no right to stay silent when the coaches demanded that she cheer for the boy who had molested her at the very least and raped her at the very worst.

It’s an issue of Free Speech and the Right to exercise it. It’s also the issue where the school and indeed various courts showed absolutely no grasp of human decency.

Richard Bain who is the school superintendent was the man who told her to leave the gym. He was the man who told her to cheer for her abuser. The lack of sensitivity in a teacher is frankly astonishing.

“As a cheerleader, HS served as a mouthpiece through which [the school district] could disseminate speech – namely, support for its athletic teams,” the appeals court decision says. “This act constituted substantial interference with the work of the school because, as a cheerleader, HS was at the basketball game for the purpose of cheering, a position she undertook voluntarily.”

Yes, she undertook that position voluntarily. I didn’t have cheerleaders growing up. They are a weird american thing which from an outside point of view sexualises young girls and creates artificial popularity. Do young men in hot pants gyrate and cheer for female atheletes? No. Cheerleading is an uniquely american concept and being one is considered a good thing for reasons that are beyond me. I assume it adds to your high school experience.

But that’s the thing. In this toss up of who we should care more about, shouldn’t you be more worried about the sexual assault victim’s experience rather than the molestor? Isn’t the voice of the school (and indeed the USA) now saying “We don’t care about the victim of sexual assault if the molestor can throw a ball through a hoop better than other kids.”. It’s saying “Fuck your experience woman, can’t you see we got a game to play?”.

HS was at a basketball game to cheer. She was there to have fun in her role as a cheerleader. She came to support a team, she didn’t come to support Bolton…

But a more important question is what the flying fuck are they doing allowing a sexual abuser/rapist play a game? Representing your school should be a badge of honour. The fact that schools take sports this seriously is terrible because the incentive to let Bolton play was higher than the idea that we should not force the victim of sexual assault to CHEER for her assaulter.

And this isn’t just Texas being a Yosemite Sam Stereotype. This is an “America” problem.



The family’s lawyer said the ruling meanst that students exercising their right of free speech can end up punished for refusing to follow “insensitive and unreasonable directions”.


  1. slc1 says

    Had 2 links so apparently the comment is in moderation.

    Hey, the colleges and professional sports aren’t any better. Ever hear of the Dallas Cowboy’s cheerleaders? Or the Los Angeles Lakers Girls?



  2. says

    Yes I have. But they are adults. That’s up to them.

    And I know that Cheerleading may not be a “sport” per say but it isn’t easy. It’s considered a pretty dangerous sport all things considered.

    However? It’s portrayal as the Acme of high school life for women is the sexism issue for me.

  3. Alverant says

    What would you say to someone who compared this to someone who refused to sell birth control pills on religious grounds? Both would have to do something they didn’t want to do as part of their jobs. I don’t agree with that claim, but I can see someone trying to make it to justify the “right of conscience” laws that seem to be on the increase.

  4. slc1 says

    Re Avicenna @ #3

    Dangerous as compared to what? It certainly isn’t remotely as dangerous as
    American football,

    By the way, not all college cheerleaders are legal adults; if they’re 1st year students, they could be as young as 17, which ain’t legal adults in the US. I can’t speak for India or Great Britain.

  5. says

    Using data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found that hospital visits between 1980 and 2007 rose 400-percent to 26,786 cheerleading-related injuries.

    That is not a small number. And many of these young ladies are forever injured. It’s a lot of injuries for a “harmless passtime”.

  6. smrnda says

    Given the situation, the idea that the school would attempt to slap the girl with any sort of penalty is just disgusting. Cheering on a team ought to be much less important than the welfare of students, and asking a girl to cheer for a guy who molests her is sadistic.

    I think sports encourages the idea that it’s okay to destroy individuals for the good of ‘the team.’ Got a concussion? Play anyway. Feel pain? Get doped up and head out on the field. An athlete commits a crime and the first question is ‘what will happen to their career?’

  7. VeganAtheistWeirdo says

    Alverant, I don’t know about Avicenna but I would say that person had proposed a false analogy. HS did not have a reasonable expectation to perform cheers for someone who assaulted her when she decided to become a cheerleader. And if the school had done the right thing and removed Bolton from the team, they would not have placed her in that ridiculous position. That’s the point.

  8. Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty says

    Alverant, If a person does not know the difference between denying medication to an autonomous person even though that is the job you are paid to do and not wanting to cheer for your rapist and shake your pon-pons while you smile and shout his name, I wouldn’t say anything to them. I’d be busy getting as far away from that person as I could. That boy does not have the right to be cheered for. That cheerleader is not a professional who has been entrusted to provide an important medical service. Women have a right to decide not to be bred like livestock against their will.

    BTW, this devil’s advocate crap? Don’t do it.

  9. jasmyn says

    Interesting. The school with the cheerleaders who brought religious signs to games were acting as individuals, not school representatives. That’s why they were able to have religion endorsed at a public school event.
    In your case, the cheerleader was a school representative with no right to speak freely. So which is it, Texas? I am ashamed that I grew up there.

  10. cotton says

    When I was in high school (10 years ago) we definitely loved us some sports, but a person WOULD be removed from the team if their grades were too low. That’s it, that’s the bar. I do not understand how a sexual assault conviction didn’t immediately send this student to an alternative school where being on the school team isn’t an option. I don’t think I agree with the free speech aspect of it (does she have the freedom to not cheer for anyone? to cheer for the other team? No) but that is an EXTREMELY MINOR issue compared to the fact a student convicted of assault has had no school interventions that reflect the seriousness of that crime. I’m shocked he wasn’t expelled, or at least sent to an alternative school, OR AT LEAST permanently removed from the school team.

  11. Alverant says

    Jackie, with people comparing/confusing gay marriage with child rape and beastiality, asking for help to head off a likely claim is not being a devil’s advocate.

  12. smrnda says

    Alavert, I don’t think the situation is comparable since there was no expectation that part of the job of being a cheerleader entails cheering on a guy who molests or rapes you. The other reason I don’t think it’s similar is that refusing to dispense birth control is blanket objection to a particular task in which who you distribute them to is irrelevant. The person disagrees with birth control. In this situation, it’s a purely personal issue where the girl doesn’t want to cheer for a guy who raped her. It isn’t even a conscious issue – it’s refusing to cheer on a criminal who committed a sex crime against you.

    The other issue is that we’re dealing with a kid here, a legal minor, not a working adult. The school has an obligation to look out for the welfare of students. If they know she’s been through a traumatic experience, they are obligated to keep that in mind in terms of what they expect her to do. It’s no different than not asking her to do certain acrobatic cheers if she has some medical problem that might increase the risk of injury.

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