There is nothing like stirring people up to get the day going.
I get a regular e-mail from an on-line "magazine" of sorts called LDS Living. I believe it started when I ordered something from Deseret Book some time ago. I open it occasionally when there are news stories that look interesting or Family Home Evening ideas. Before my route this morning, and while I was trying to muster enough ambition to leave the house at 3 am in 25 degree weather despite a cold that has been lingering in various incarnations for three weeks, I opened one of these stories.
Here is the link.
The article is brief, but the upshot is that a high school with a majority LDS population decided to attend a cheer competition held on Sunday. It is a cheer competition inside Utah, with dozens of other Utah high schools participating, probably with similar demographics of LDS populations (according a commenter, anyway). Two girls told the coaches they wouldn't be going, expecting them to be understanding. They weren't.
Instead, they tried to have the girls removed from the team.
A meeting was held between parents, coaches and administration, where the parents argued that booting the girls from the team would be discriminating against them based on religion (not because they were refusing to fulfill team requirements). The coaches relented to avoid a big scene and allowed the girls to stand in the back of the main formations, with a small part so that they could be removed on competition day.
Due to scheduling conflicts, the cheerleading squad could only practice on Monday nights.
The girls complained again. This time they were booted. One of the mothers said the girls were "devastated," and the girls expressed how hard it was now to go to school and the games because they can no longer cheer. The article labeled the coaches, "unwilling to compromise."The girls' families said they don't want to make a scene.
It was very early, remember, when I read this. There were already two comments, speaking the girls' praises up and down. I had to create an account so I could make a comment.
"I appreciate that what these girls did was hard for them, but the reality of my non-Utah LDS community is that our kids have to make decisions from the time they are very young to avoid competitive sports all together if they want to avoid Sunday participation. Nearly all of our youth leagues play at least a portion of their games on Sundays, and it can be very hard to find supportive coaches who are willing to tweak the schedule or work around being a man short on the Sunday games. Besides sports, LDS kids in our area seldom can attend birthday parties and a huge variety of community and school events because Sunday is the day of choice for so many activities. As a former teacher, it is also clear that the school did the best it could in the circumstances. I think the magazine blew this story way out of proportion by turning a very commonplace decision for LDS kids all over the world into a dramatic and newsworthy event."
As of noon today, there were 47 comments. Which, truthfully mostly seem to discuss my threadjack.
I'm not sure how I feel about that. I always like discussion, but I also realize I created a fair amount of conflict between people who all seem very sincere and mostly reasonable. I have not weighed in again.
I think I would like to here. What I cited above are not my only issues with the whole thing.
1 - We are talking about cheerleading, people. Cheerleading. The girls are not being denied any kind of academic activity. Remember, the ACTUAL purpose of the public school?
2 - And while we are talking about cheerleading. Just how modest ARE those uniforms? If we are going to get ticky about keeping unstated commandments, maybe that is worth addressing. (Just ask Loradona.) With the wholesome attitude toward the subjects of this article, it makes it sound as though cheerleading is some kind of inherently uplifting and virtuous activity. Not that it necessarily has to be the opposite, either; but if I had a daughter on a squad, I'd be as much concerned about certain types of dancing and uniforms as Sunday competitions.
3 - The coaches WERE accommodating. Very. They chose to allow the girls to stay on the team until they refused both to compete AND practice. There is no organization where you can just show up on performance/game/presentation day and expect to be unpunished. Maybe the coaches should have thought through signing the team up for the competition to begin with. There is no discussion from their viewpoint in the article--was a conversation held ahead of time with parents about this possibility? Did the team vote to participate? Again PUBLIC school. Nobody requires to the cheerleaders to actually do anything, or even exist for that matter.
4 - It is called a SACRIFICE, darlings. That is the whole point.
5 - And when your sacrifice is made public (the not-wanting-a-scene-mothers had to be interviewed for the thing, right?) and hundreds or thousands of people read it, and many comment on the fact that you are a "hero," doesn't this totally undermine actual spiritual growth that takes place in quiet moments of reflection and private decision making?
I want to reiterate that I can appreciate that this decision was hard for these girls, and they are to be commended for it. By their parents. But the "devastation" these girls feel shocks me with its lack of actual perspective. With its complete misunderstanding and overshadowing of the truly meaningful sacrifices young men and women make all over the worldwide Church every day. This is not a "Team Utah vs. Team Mission Field*" thing as implied by one appalled comment maker; it is a call to identify teenagers actually worthy of notice.
And here is the first one I'd like to call attention to: Sedrick Tshiambine. His story, found near end of this article, is one of true inspiration, sacrifice and dedication.
Clearly, the readership here is more selective, and probably more left of center than the mainstream US Church, and I'm interested in your take. Even if you disagree. Especially if you disagree.
* I really hate that term "mission field." I can't even begin to express why. Maybe another day. I think it is time to put the soapbox away for the day.