For the first time since 1934, the Detroit Lions will have cheerleaders at a game this weekend. Except that the women won't be official Lions cheerleaders. And they can't perform any organized cheers. And they aren't allowed to wear the team's colors or logos. And they'll also be sitting in the stands.
According to Terry Foster of the Detroit News, a group of 12 women who call themselves the Detroit Pride will attend Sunday's home game against the Philadelphia Eagles and serve as the team's unofficial cheerleaders. The Pride had to get the team to approve their presence at Ford Field and agree to terms of etiquette as well. Those terms include all the rules listed in the first paragraph, plus other restrictions on picture taking and blocking the views of other fans.
With all those rules in place, the Pride are essentially fans with less rights than everyone else. If me and a group of 11 buddies wanted to go to a Lions game and call ourselves The Motown Manes, we could do so and not have to worry about how many of us get into a picture or how coordinated our cheers are or worry about whether anyone behind can't see.
Because the Pride eventually want to become the official Lions cheerleaders, they did agree to these rules. The hope is that Lions ownership will see how many fans like the Pride's presence and this will lead to the team reversing its anti-cheerleader stance. It's a great theory and all, but how will fans know that the Pride are cheerleaders if they can't do anything remotely resembling cheerleading? If a cheerleader isn't allowed to cheer in a stadium, does she make a sound?
Detroit has never approved an official cheerleading squad. Current owner William Clay Ford wants to promote a family-friendly atmosphere at games, though if that was his true goal he wouldn't subject people to watching the Lions play.