The town of Oregon City is by no means progressive. Although nominally a suburb of very liberal Portland, it lies at the edge of the metropolitan area, on the border between very leftish urban Oregon and very conservative rural Oregon. Among Portland suburbanites Oregon City is known as a redneck town, last outpost before the domain of the hill people.
Strangely enough, Oregon City also boasts one of the nation’s best high school girl’s basketball teams. Since 1990 the Pioneers have won sixteen league championships, ten state championships, and three national titles. Although the football team tends to be quite respectable, girl’s basketball is invariably the number one game in town. Having gone to high school in this context, it was with great curiosity and some surprise that I read this article on sports gender equity in cheerleading:
Whitney Point is one of 14 high schools in the Binghamton area that began sending cheerleaders to girls’ games in late November, after the mother of a female basketball player in Johnson City, N.Y., filed a discrimination complaint with the United States Department of Education. She said the lack of official sideline support made the girls seem like second-string, and violated Title IX’s promise of equal playing fields for both sexes.
But the ruling has left many people here and across the New York region booing, as dozens of schools have chosen to stop sending cheerleaders to away games, as part of an effort to squeeze all the home girls’ games into the cheerleading schedule.
Boys’ basketball boosters say something is missing in the stands at away games, cheerleaders resent not being able to meet their rivals on the road, and even female basketball players being hurrahed are unhappy.
In Johnson City, students and parents say they have accepted the change even as they question the need for it. Several cheerleaders there recalled a game two years ago, long before the complaint, when the squad decided at the last minute to cheer for the girls’ team because a boys’ game was canceled. The cheers drowned out directions from the girls’ coach, frustrated the players, and created so much tension that the cheerleaders left before halftime.
Although it’s been fourteen years and my memory starts getting fuzzy around the two month mark, I seem to recall that the cheerleaders were at every girl’s basketball game at OC that I attended. This never seemed odd to me, but I am now wondering if this is perhaps not the norm…