What’s next? Gainer versus the San Diego Chicken in an Olympic, gold-medal showdown between mascots?
Word has come from the International Olympic Committee that two new sports – Thai kickboxing and cheerleading – passed the first hurdle to becoming Olympic events. They received provisional recognition and joined 35 other recognized sports that receive at least $25,000 in annual IOC funding. Kickboxing, OK, but the fact that cheerleading has three years to prove itself worthy of full medal recognition is disconcerting.
There are apparently 100 national federations and 4.5 million registered cheerleaders. And who hasn’t seen the cheerleading competitions on ESPN 4, replete with pompoms, pleated skirts, some gymnastics moves and a few guys to throw their female counterparts into the air? Sport? No. Cheerleaders are athletes, admittedly, but the actions aren’t competitions.
Anyway, if rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized diving can become full-fledged medal sports, who can stop the IOC from greenlighting cheerleading while racquetball and squash – two real sports – can’t get near the podium?